The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan almost exactly two years ago obliterated an entire forest in Iwate Prefecture. Some 70,000 trees were destroyed, and the only one left standing was a pine tree that came to be called the “Miracle Pine.” The tree and its environment were too damaged to survive for long, and it died six months ago at the age of 173. But now it’s been reborn as a monument to the 19,000 victims of the tsunami.
The 2011 tsunami wasn’t the first one the Miracle Pine withstood — it also survived disasters in 1896 and 1933. If a tree could have balls of steel, this one would — but instead it now has a spine of carbon, reinforcing its hollowed-out trunk, and the branches and leaves have been replaced with plastic replicas. It’s a fitting memorial to a pretty badass tree, and to the losses of a country that’s still rebuilding.