The Japan – U.S. Cherry Blossom Centennial is off to a strong start with the distribution of more than 1,200 cherry trees by the Huntington Botanical Gardens in January.
On January 29, 2012, the Sakura Centennial Opening was held at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. The event was co-hosted by the Consulate General of Japan and the Huntington.
Colorful table displays showcased cherry blossom festivals and art projects that are being held this year throughout our region in commemoration of the centennial.
Guests from as far as Arizona attended the event. The Arizona Matsuri committee’s pink, red and purple display promoted the Arizona Matsuri, which will have a sakura-theme this year. It will take place on February 25 & 26 in Phoenix.
The Japan America Society of Southern California displayed the winning posters from its first Manga Poster Competition. This year’s theme is “sakura.”
A popular attraction at the Sakura Centennial Opening was the sushi prepared by Chef Araki, the chef for the Consul General’s residence.
Mayors and city officials, particularly those hosting cherry blossom centennial events, were in attendance. Bill Fujioka, CEO of Los Angeles County, presented a certificate of commendation from Supervisor Michael Antonovich. Another certificate was presented from the City of Monterey Park by David Lau, Mayor, and Betty Tom Chu, Councilmember.
The cherry trees from the Huntington were distributed to non-profit organizations, for planting at schools, city parks, and public spaces. Some attendees picked up their cherry trees when the event concluded. Many Japan-related organizations received cherry trees. Sister city organizations will plant cherry trees in city locations such as in parks. Some Japanese American cultural centers will plant trees on their grounds. More than seventy schools also received cherry trees to beautify their campuses.
The Japan – U.S. Cherry Blossom Centennial commemorates the initial planting of cherry trees in Washington, D.C. in 1912. Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki has described the gift of cherry trees as a living testament to the friendship between the people of Japan and the United States.