Friday, March 29, 2013

The Tree Sentinels

During our visit to Minamisanriku, one of the worst affected areas in the Miyagi prefecture, we were struck by the line of grey trees that seem to line the otherwise lush green forests. It seemed to resemble one of the many Japanese artforms that make use of nature and its colours. Until we discovered the truth.

The tsunami that hit the area brought in huge quantities of saline water that penetrated the trees through their routes and killed them. This stunning revelation left us in shock as we continued to stare at the trees through the window of the bus - they, the remains of thriving, tall trees made us realize the awesome power of the tsunami. Given the elevation of the tree bases, we could even get an idea of just how high the tsunami managed to come by tracking the border of the dead and living trees. And it was high indeed.

The trees are unsafe now, of course. Like any living thing, they too seem to wait for a decent cremation. But other prefectures refuse to take the trees for incineration for fear of radioactivity. This is perfectly a non-issue of course, given that there was no leak in this area. Nonetheless, people of other prefectures refuse to see this reasoning, concerned for their own families' well-being. And so the people of this little village live in the midst of these trees, which could come crashing down at any moment. 

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