Famous pines burned in remembrance of disaster victims
The timber of pines from the famous Takata Matsubara forest is burned at the Naritasan-Shinshoji temple in Chiba Prefecture on Sept. 25. (Kengo Hiyoshi)
The wood of pine trees from the celebrated Takata Matsubara forest was burned at the Naritasan-Shinshoji temple in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, as part of a service for the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Tens of thousands pines lining the seaside at Takata Matsubara in Iwate Prefecture were uprooted by the March 11 tsunami. Now, only one tree remains of the famous forest.
At a ceremony on Sept. 25 at Narita-Shinshoji, 30 square logs from fallen trees, inscribed with the message "For recovery from the devastation of the Great East Japan Earthquake," were thrown on a ritual fire along with holy "Gomagi" wooden staves. Prayers were said for the souls of the dead and for a quick return to normality in the disaster-hit areas.
All of the money collected at the ritual will go to the city of Rikuzentakata, which includes the Takata Matsubara area.
Shoju Watanabe, a monk at the temple, said: "We hope the ritual will help victims' souls rest in peace and will support the rebuilding efforts in the Tohoku region."
The temple had initially been reported to be planning to place the logs on an altar rather than burning them if they had been found to be contaminated with radioactive materials from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Wood burning is an important feature of many Japanese Buddhist rituals and the plan to avoid it prompted more than 100 calls of protest. Burning went ahead because no radiation was found on the wood.