Last December, in Miyagi prefecture, hard-hit by the 2011 tsunami, a very special tree appeared in the form of a painting on the side of a wall at the beach. It had bare branches, but people soon began to leave pictures and messages of hope and courage for the survivors. Then a few days ago, about 200 people from all over Japan showed up, painted their palms red or pink, and then pasted their prints on the tree, creating beautiful cherry blossoms for the locals to enjoy, just in time for “hanami” (cherry blossom viewing)!
Many of the residents are discouraged that reconstruction efforts are going so slowly, and many former residents have left the area altogether. Ikuyo Takahashi, 78, is one of the ones who stayed. She said she wants to sit under the cherry tree and “wait for everyone who left to come back.”