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May 28, 2017

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'Miracle Piano' commemorates Japan earthquake

TAIPEI -- The piano now on display at a Taipei department store is no ordinary instrument — it was damaged, seemingly beyond repair, by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan before undergoing a nearly miraculous repair.

Dubbed the Miracle Piano, it belonged to a high school in Fukushima Prefecture, one of the hardest-hit areas, before being fixed up and brought to the Dayeh Takashimaya department store in Taipei, which is organizing events commemorating the disaster and showing gratitude for Taiwan's generous support through July 13.

Washed away by the waves and caked in mud, the piano seemed beyond hope until a dedicated local piano tuner, Hiroshi Endo, gave it his attention. Endo, who is in Taipei to attend the commemorative events, spent some six months laboring on the piano to restore it.

Although the task was so difficult he was inclined to give up altogether, Endo said he decided to keep up his efforts because he wanted to do something encouraging for the victims of the deadly disaster.

The repaired piano has been seen as "a symbol of hope" for the people rolling up their sleeves to rebuild their homes, he said through an interpreter during a commemorative concert Sunday.

Endo also took the opportunity to say thank you to the people of Taiwan for their support and assistance in the wake of the disasters of March 11, 2011.

Taiwanese musician Huang Yu-hsiang was invited to play a series of songs on the Miracle Piano, attracting interest from dozens of shoppers.

"I wanted to use music to encourage the affected residents in Japan," said the blind pianist, who traveled to the hard-hit areas last year to cheer for the people there.

He said he was impressed by Endo's ability to restore the piano. "I couldn't tell it had once been seriously damaged when I played it," he told the audience.

Before coming to Taiwan, the piano traveled to Singapore, where it was used for a series of concerts, the organizers said.

Other events in Taipei to mark the March 11 quake include a photo exhibit that shows the process of residents of hard-hit Iwate Prefecture as they get back on their feet.

A large painting made earlier this year by artist Yusuke Asai from Tokyo together with a group of children from Iwate is also on display at the same venue.

Japanese singers have scheduled concerts in Taipei in the coming days as part of the events, as well, according to the organizers.

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed nearly 20,000 people, mainly in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.

In the wake of the disaster, Taiwan donated some US$260 million in aid to Japan, more than any other single country.

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