Treasured cherry tree blooms in quake-hit Fukushima
BY KENICHIRO SAITO STAFF WRITER
People enjoy the cherry blossoms of one of Japan's oldest cherry trees in Miharu, Fukushima Prefecture. (Masaru Komiyaji)
After the Great East Japan Earthquake rattled Miharu, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 11, cracks were found on local roadways. But one of Japan's national treasures was spared.
Miharu-takizakura (waterfall cherry tree) is one of three cherry trees in Japan believed to be more than 1,000 years old. It is currently in full bloom.
Normally, thousands of people flock to Miharu-takizakura during hanami season, but this year special bus services and tree illumination were canceled because of the damage caused by the March 11 quake, which hit the town with an intensity of upper 5.
Miharu is about 50 kilometers from the leaking Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant--well outside the 20-km evacuation zone--but tourist numbers are down for Miharu-takizakura.
About 60,000 people, one-fifth the normal amount, have visited the famous cherry tree, according to the tourist association in Miharu.
But Miharu-takizakura is not forgotten. The town has received a great number of heartfelt messages by telephone from across the nation showing concerns over the health of the tree.
Miharu is glad to report that its national treasure is just fine, and is currently showing of its pink-hued splendor.