Every spring, tourists flock to Miharu, Japan, to behold an ancient symbol of strength and resilience.
At more than 1,000 years old, the Takizakura, or “waterfall cherry tree,” has not only stood the test of time, but it has also thrived. Nothing has stopped its gorgeous pink buds from blossoming, and COVID-19 is no exception!
Locals see Takizakura as so much more than a tree. To them, it’s a cherished member of their community that has seen far more than anyone alive today.
As such, they care for its stretching branches together, keeping the base free of weeds, setting up wooden posts to support its weight, and even leaving offerings like salt and rice to show their appreciation.
Over the past millennium, the massive tree has survived countless natural disasters. For example, in 2011 a magnitude 8.9 earthquake (the largest on record in Japan) set off a devastating tsunami, which in turn caused a meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
For awhile, Takizakura’s steady stream of visitors petered out because they were afraid of radiation. But the tree remained standing, and its admirers returned over the following years.
These days, very few people are visiting Takizakura because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The locals know it’s for the best — and have no doubt that their beloved tree will weather this storm, just as it has so many times before.
“For me, the tree is a reminder that nature is strong. Nature can get through anything,” Kazue Otomo told NPR. She and her husband Kenjiro brought their 9-year-old to the tree as a baby, and again recently, just before a big move.
Another visitor, Sidafumi Hirata, said, “This tree has lived so long, and the longer you live, the more bad events you see. More tragedies. So she will see more bad things, but she’ll also see good. Life is layers, layers of bad and good.”
What an incredible piece of history, not to mention a beacon of hope! While we’re going through a difficult season, we’ll get through it — just like Takizakura.
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