Cities in Georgia and Alabama Selected to Participate in Japan-U.S. Cherry Blossom Centennial Celebration by Planting Cherry Trees
In cooperation with Japanese Consulates throughout the country, the Embassy of Japan has taken the initiative to promote the planting of flowering cherry trees in 36 cities across the United States as part of the 100th anniversary of the gift of approximately 3,000 cherry blossom trees from the people of Japan to the people of the United States. Planted around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. in 1912, these cherry blossom trees have become a symbol of the warm relationship between Japan and the U.S. for the past century. The trees for the centennial celebration have been provided by American Forests, a nonprofit conservation organization.
Within the jurisdiction of the Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta, the following locations were selected to participate:
Georgia Governor’s Mansion – 4 trees
On March 1, 2012, Governor and Mrs. Nathan Deal hosted an official tree planting ceremony at the Georgia Governor’s Mansion. Governor Deal and Consul General of Japan Takuji Hanatani made remarks, which were following by the tree planting. Guests included Mrs. Keiko Hanatani; Charles Sutlive, Vice President Public Affairs and Communications Southeast Region at Coca-Cola Refreshments; Day Lancaster, Chairman, Japan-America Society of Georgia; Hideo Takada, Chairman, Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Georgia; Kaori Igeta McEwen, Programs Director, Japan-America Society of Georgia; Eriko Dunn, Japanese community member; Atsushi Hayakawa, Owner, Sushi Hayakawa; Yukimi Kurata, Jessica Cork, and Shuhei Kawakubo, from the Consulate-General of Japan. In his remarks, Governor Deal stated that, "the four cherry blossom trees that we are planting at the Governor’s Mansion are a symbol of friendship between Japan and Georgia. Our countries have shared both joys and sorrows, and after the Great East Japan Earthquake last March, Georgia companies such as AFLAC, Coca-Cola, Delta and UPS made significant financial contributions to Japan. I am looking forward to my planned visit Japan in September (to attend the Annual Joint Meeting of the Southeast U.S./Japan and the Japan-U.S. Southeast Associations)." Consul General Hanatani remarked, "I am delighted to plant these cherry trees on the grounds of the Governor’s mansion on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the gift of cherry trees from Japan, and I hope that the friendly relations that have developed between Japan and Georgia over the last forty years in cooperation with Japanese companies will continue to strengthen in the future. I would also like to use this opportunity to once again than thank the U.S. government, the American people, and private corporations for their support after last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake."
Macon, GA - 20 trees
The City of Macon held an official tree planting ceremony on Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 10:45 am at Cherry Street Park. The event was attended by Consul General of Japan Takuji Hanatani, Macon Mayor Robert Reichert, Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart, General McMahon of Robins Air Force Base, visiting dignitaries, festival guests, festival founder Carolyn Crayton, and festival board members. Consul General Hanatani commented, "By planting these trees here today, we unite the original gift of trees from Japan to the United States with the Macon cherry trees. To mark this year’s anniversary, trees are being planted throughout the United States. This demonstrates the breadth of our relationship, for it is deeper than just the Tokyo-Washington connection. It stands upon bonds of friendship between the people of Macon, the people of Georgia, and the people of Japan. I am honored to be here for this tree planting ceremony, and hope these trees continue to grow and mature like those in Washington, D.C. planted one hundred years ago. They will forever demonstrate the strong links between Georgia and Japan."
Campbell High School in Smyrna - 2 trees
Campbell High School planted the cherry trees in a space outdoors that runs next to the hallway outside the foreign language classrooms. They plan a formal planting ceremony for later in the year, once a planned Japanese garden is completed. According to Japanese teacher John Moale, "We are grateful to the Consulate General of Japan for supporting our school with this donation. I think the cherry tree will help the students to undersatnd the deep relationship shared between Japan and the United States. Campbell High School has been teaching Japanese for over 10 years, and I think these cherry trees will leave a strong impression on both sudents and faculty."
Elkins Pointe Middle School in Roswell - 2 trees
On Wednesday, March 7, Consul General Takuji Hanatani participated in a tree planting ceremony at Elkins Pointe Middle School, which was attended by School Board President Linda Schultz, Milton High School Principal Cliff Jones, and Roswell High School World Languages Department Chair Celeste Wesner. Elkins Pointe Middle School Japanese teacher Miyuki Johnson comments, "We truly appreciate the donation. Our whole school learned about the meaning of sakura, and our principal announced to the whole school that we had special guests coming, and we would have a special ceremony. Our ceremony went beautifully, and it was very important not just to the Japanese program, but to the whole school. We were very proud that Consul Hanatani and Ms. Schultz visited us. We also think that the presence of guests indicated the strong support for the Japanese program from the community. We feel that by having a sakura ceremony, we could show the importance of Japanese program to the whole school and the community in return. By receiving sakura, and putting sakura in the center of our school, we feel the unity of the school, and we hope to grow together with our sakura."
North Cobb High School in Kennesaw - 2 trees
Ridgeview Charter School in Atlanta - 2 trees
Tomomi Davis, Japanese teacher at Ridgeview Middle School, and her students planted two cherry trees on Saturday, April 21, Earth Day. The kids had a great time working together to learn more about Japan and beautify their school at the same time.
Piedmont Park, Atlanta – 2 trees
The two trees were planted along the new trail near the Welcome Plaza that leads to the 53 acre expansion that was opened last year. Chris Nelson, Executive Vice President & COO of Piedmont Park Conservancy comments, "Thank you and the Japanese people for your generous donation. Hopefully these small saplings will become beautiful mature trees in the years ahead and enjoyed in the spring when they bloom by the three million+ visitors who come and visit Piedmont Park each year."
Students who are members of the Japan Club planted the cherry tree at the entrance to the school. According to Japanese teacher Nico Moorman, "the students pass the cherry tree every single day on their way to classes. When the cherry tree blooms each year, surely they will think of Japan. I would like to teach them the custom of cherry blossom blooming. I am sure they will understand Japanese culture better if they eat a Japanese-style o-bento lunch while viewing the cherry blossoms."
Roswell High School in Roswell - 2 trees
Towers High School in Decatur - 2 trees
Towers High School’s maintenance crews are working hard to clean the yard with heavy equipment in preparation for the planting.
Japan-America Society of Alabama – 20 trees
Mike Oatridge, President of the Japan-America Society of Alabama, writes, "I offer our deepest appreciation and regard to all there at the Consulate General in Atlanta and at the Japanese Embassy in Washington D.C. who worked towards considering us to become one of these recipients. I would like to let you know that we have made arrangements to have the Birmingham Botanical Gardens work alongside JASA to accept and nurture the saplings until they can be swiftly yet safely and securely planted at several venues across the State of Alabama. These venues will include planting three trees in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens Japanese Garden, three to Freshwater LandTrust- Our One Mile, located in Jefferson County, Alabama (Birmingham), and the remainder to other botanical societies north and south of Birmingham.... With deepest regard to the people of Japan, to Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki in Washington D.C., to all who work alongside him there at the Japanese Embassy, and to yourself and your fellow ambassadors there at the Consulate General in Atlanta, we express our deepest thanks for entrusting us with this treasure."