Wood From Japan’s ‘Miracle Lone Pine’ Turned into Tax Gift

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Nanamanbun no Ichi no Kiseki no Kaori incense set

RIKUZEN-TAKATA, Iwate — Incense made from the “miracle lone pine,” which remained standing after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in Rikuzen-Takata, Iwate Prefecture, was unveiled in June.

Of the about 70,000 pine trees that grew in the former Takata Matsubara forest, the “miracle lone pine” was the only tree to survive the disaster. Work to preserve the tree was completed in July 2013, and it is now on display as a monument.

The city of Rikuzen-Takata asked the public last year for ideas of how to use wood waste — about 750 kilograms — generated during the preservation process, in a way that also informs future generations about the disaster. In response, local trading company Rikuzentakata Agency Co. proposed an idea.

The incense set, which was also developed by the company, is given to those who donate ¥200,000 through the furusato nozei system, a tax-deductible donation program.

The incense set, Nanamanbun no Ichi no Kiseki no Kaori (The fragrance of the one-in-70,000 miracle), comprises four items: 24 eight-centimeter-long incense sticks in which wood chips are kneaded; an aromatic bag containing a mixture of wood waste and scented material; a small bottle containing wood chips; and an incense plate.

“For locals who have been struggling after the earthquake, the tree is like a beacon of light for the future,” said Rikuzentakata Agency President Kiyoshi Murakami. “I hope people will feel like they are near the tree as the scent gives them energy.”

The Takata Matsubara forest is said to have originated from trees planted by Matsuzaka Shinemon Sadanobu (1672-1754), a local official, and others to protect the area from the wind and tides during the Edo period (1603-1867).

“I think Shinemon would be pleased if the product could help promote the town with its declining population, as well as lift the spirits of the locals,” said Yasumori Matsuzaka, 78, a descendant of Shinemon Sadanobu and director of the Rikuzentakata City Museum.

Selling the incense set to the general public for ¥55,000 is also being considered.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The “miracle lone pine” was cut to undergo a preservation process in Rikuzen-Takata in September 2012.