On March 11, 2011, the East Japan great earthquake occurred and a tsunami attacked various parts of Tohoku. Rikuzen-Takata lost 9% owing to the damage of the earthquake disaster and tsunami within its population of about 24,000.
A while ago, a geological survey revealed records and traces of which a tsunami exceeding 10m had swallowed the Sanriku coast 1,100 years ago. It was very regretful.
This tsunami was the 4th time in the past 120 years. Although predecessors stood the stone pillar (2m x 25cm) to the tsunami arrival point, they were not able to lessen damage.
I am from Rikuzen-Takata. Immediately after the disaster had occurred, we wanted to check the situation of families and acquaintances, and we could not wait for the safety situation of media. With a message of a Takada native person in Tokyo, I left Tokyo at midnight on March 13. Having taken 14 hours, I arrived there on the evening of the next day and stayed there and was engaged in management of a shelter, etc. While carrying out earthquake disaster emergency assistance, we wanted to leave the reaching point of tsunami visually, and the topic became the center of attention among friends. We decided to plant cherry trees for residents' healing although we had ideas of camellia or dogwood.
The activity nature of the Sakura Line 311 is to hand down the warning of evacuating to the above line of the cherry trees in case of tsunami coming, by planting cherry trees every 10m and making the cherry-tree lined path along the line of point where the tsunami arrived over 170km in Rikuzentakata-shi, Iwate Prefecture.
We were trying to get a certification acquisition from the time of organization establishment.
Since the cherry trees were for mourning, we had a hesitation about turning them into money. It is impossible to consider it as an activity which yields a profit about planting cherry trees. Then, a source of revenue can only be either subsidy or contribution. There is a big difference whether we get a certification or not. Under those circumstances, in collecting contribution from contributors, we considered as it would be better to get a certification if it were possible.
By the time we received an application, two accounting periods had been required, but we got the know-how from a NPO member in Tokyo who had already got an authorization acquisition, and we finished the first accounting period in two months. We constructed the schedule so that we could get a certification at the shortest.
Since we had many contributors, we were sure that the absolute value standard had been cleared from the beginning. Although I took charge of the work of an authorization application, I had a hard time arranging contributors’ addresses and it was a tough job to compile thick documents. I consulted with C’s and they helped me correct documents.
We did preparation for about three months, successfully applied in February, 2014, and on May 1, Heisei 26, we became the first certified NPO organization as a NPO established after the earthquake disaster which was the fifth NPO in Iwate Prefecture with the speed of two years from the NPO establishment.
As for planting of cherry trees, it is best to plant cherry trees in November, December, March and April from autumn to spring, avoiding the season of snow coverage since there are few damages to trees if planted in the period between the leaves fall and buds come out. Since the authorization application was done while the tree-planting work was in progress, I remembered that I had busy days.
We planted 718 cherry trees at 169 places by the end of May. The total number of the volunteer participation which participated in tree planting rises to 1707 people. There is a tendency among many volunteers that people over 40 join the activity since "tree planting" can be sympathized among those generations.
We are only planting on private lands now. Rikuzen-Takata city is in the middle of 8-meter levee raising construction, and since their highest priority is to decide a city recovery program, they will finally decide the utilization of lands in a year. Even if the arrival point is in the individual property, the ownership will be an equivalent exchange with the city, so a negotiation with the city will be necessary after that. Moreover, the lands along Kesengawa river where a tsunami arrived are a prefectural management lands.
Since about 60 percent of the tsunami arrival points are the administrative management lands, we already had talks with the prefecture and the city. Upon making requests on tree-planting, there are some places that a community itself is gone.Help will be needed for a management after planting young cherry trees, a bottom grass cutting, explanation and cooperation requests to landowners, etc. It will be a prolonged project that the tree planting of 17,000 takes another about 20 more years. Although we have a staff composition of three U-turn group and two I-turn group now, we wish to hire some new university graduates from the city in the near future.
Although we have been working since immediately after the earthquake disaster, we also have to consider the balance with the progress condition of the recovery program, so the pace of the present annual tree planting is 350. We are putting a lot of energy into telling contributors that we have held activity report meetings in Osaka, Nagoya, and Tokyo, so that they may not think that the pace of tree planting is slow.
We are planning to plant 100 trees newly in the areas of Osabe and Otomo in the city this autumn. Moreover, when a recovery program plan with the city is decided, we are thinking to ask children who bear the future of Rikuzen-Takata to participate in the tree-planting joint event of elementary schools and junior high schools to leave it in their memory.
Organization Name: Sakura Line 311
Incorporation Date: May, 2012 (voluntary-group started: October, 2011)
Certification Acquisition Date: May 1, 2014
Certification term of validity: May 1, 2014 to April 30, 2019
Number of Staff: 5
Business Scale: About 29 million yen
Organization Website: http://www.sakura-line311.org/