Moai statue is originally from Easter Island, Chile.
And the real one, you can see only there. Until 2013.
Now, there’s one place you can see the real one outside of Chile.
It’s Japan. Not Tokyo, but in Miyagi prefecture.
This was made possible because of the friendship between Minamisanriku town in Miyagi and Chile.
The bond between Chile and Miyagi from 1960
It was triggered by the Chilean earthquake and tsunami that occurred in 1960.
At the time, the tsunami caused by the Chilean earthquake reached Minamisanriku Town and caused so much damage that some people died.
And they knew both situations, then they got close to each other and have frindship with the desire to “carry on the memory of the tsunami to the future”.
The bond Moai statue connected
In 1991, Chile create a replica of the moai statues as proof of their friendship. And Minamisanriku placed it in a a park as a part of its community development efforts.
In 2011, the park was damaged by the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami. So the Moai statue was also disappeared.
But the head of the moai statue was found, and now it’s moved to Shizugawa High School.
Seeing the damege, the people of Easter Island started to make new moai statue to send it to Minamisanriku.
But it was not easy.
Because until then, it is said that the moai statues that were created using the stones of Easter Island have never left the island.
And some locals rejected moving Island’s stones outside of the Island.
However, Chilean goverment didn’t give up talking with them, and many sculptors remember that Japanese had helped to rebuild the moai statues that had fallen apart in the past.
And someone said
“If the stone is not from the island, it doesn’t have MANA (spiritual power). And there is no point in giving it to the disaster area.”
Then, this happened.
Moai statue with eyes
There are only two “real” moai statues which have eyes in the world.
One is in Easter Island, and the another one is in Minamisanriku.
The sculptors made it wish that this moai statue would be the one to watch over the reconstruction of Minamisanriku.
Meaning of “Moai”
Incidentally, moai means “living in the future” in the Rapa Nui language of Easter Island.
I think that the moai might be there to heal the grief of the victims and give them courage to live.
Here is the place you can see the real moai statue in Japan.
南三陸さんさん商店街 [Minamisanriku sansan market]
It’s in a market, so you’ll see many other local shops there like seafood restaurants, sweets shops, and souvenir shops.
If you go there by car, just copy it and paste to your navi.
Time: 1.5 hours from Sendai station
By shuttle bus
Time: About 1.5 hours from Sendai station
Price: ￥1,700 yen for one way trip / ￥3,100 for round trip
By train and bus
Time: About 2 ~ 2.5 hours from Sendai station
Price: ￥1,540 for one way
*Access information (details) : https://www.sansan-minamisanriku.com/access/
*Official website : https://www.sansan-minamisanriku.com/
If you want a casual guide like me, feel free to contact me:)
Thank yoyu for reading.
Have a wonderful day!