Luxury Swiss pen uses tsunami 'miracle' wood

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Luxury Swiss pen uses tsunami 'miracle' wood
Photo: Montblanc

Swiss-owned luxury brand Montblanc is to sell fountain pens made from a "miracle pine" tree that survived the 2011 tsunami, for a hefty $4,400, an official said, with 20 percent of takings donated to local people.


The news comes as Japan prepares to mark the fourth anniversary of a disaster that claimed more than 19,000 lives and made tens of thousands of people homeless as it wreaked untold economic damage.
It also sparked the world's worst atomic accident in a generation, forcing 
tens of thousands of people from their homes, many of whom remain displaced, often in poorly-insulated temporary housing.
The pen and watch maker, part of the Geneva-based Richemont luxury group, has used wood from the only tree left 
standing when a a forest of 70,000 was flattened in Rikuzentakata, on Japan's stricken northeastern coast.
The so-called "miracle pine" was later found to be dying and underwent 150 
million yen ($1.5 million) of reinforcement to prop it up, to become a must-see spot for visitors to the area.
When the city cut down the tree, mayor Futoshi Toba asked the Japanese unit 
of the Swiss company to use salvaged wood to make pens to ensure the "disaster remains in people's minds," a city official said.
Montblanc has made 113 pens — the figure reflects the 
11th of March date of the disaster — which will go on sale on the fourth anniversary for 520,000 yen ($4,400) each, the official said, with 20 percent of takings being given to the city.
"The pine was the only thing that gave us hope in the despair of the 
disaster," Toba told a press conference on Wednesday.
"With Montblanc's help, I hope the world will think about the disaster."

A spokesman for Montblanc in Japan said the 20 percent donation rate was 
based on precedent in previous charity pens.
He said the high cost of each pen — around $4,000 before tax — reflected 
the scarcity of the raw material which is "not ideal for making fountain pens."
The spokesman declined to reveal how much the pens cost to make, or how 
much profit the company would earn on each sale.


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