Soccer stadium uses turf grown in 3/11 disaster areas

Saturday marks the 12th anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011.
People in Saitama are hoping that the prefecture's famous soccer stadium offers a message of recovery. Its pitch has been replaced with turf grown in areas hit hard by the disaster.

Saitama Stadium is the largest soccer-specific field in Japan, with a capacity of over 63,000 people.
It has hosted major matches and tournaments, including the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

The stadium's turf has been renewed for the first time since it opened in 2001. The work started in November last year, using grass grown in farmlands in Yamamoto Town, Miyagi Prefecture, which was devastated by the tsunami. The project was completed on Friday, at a total cost of about 300 million yen, or roughly 2 million dollars.

Turf from Miyagi has also been used in one of the venues of the Tokyo Olympics.

One Saitama Prefecture official said that he hopes the stadium and its turf will help give encouragement to people who were impacted by the disaster.

A professional soccer league match on April 15th will be the first to use the new pitch.