Japan Offers Cherry Trees To People of San Diego and Port of San Diego

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first gift of cherry trees from Japan to the United States, the Consulate-General of Japanin Los Angeles is offering more than 20 Pink Cloud cherry trees to the people of San Diego through the Port of San Diego.

Kuniko Nakamura, a Consul with the Consulate-General, attended the Board of Port Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, and asked the Commissioners to accept the offer of the cherry trees “as a symbol of friendship between the United States and Japan.”

By unanimous vote, the seven-member Port Commission approved a resolution accepting the offer.

A tree dedication ceremony is set for 11:30 a.m., Thursday, March 29, 2012, at Tuna Harbor Park at Tuna Lane and North Harbor Drive just south of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. Following the dedication, there will be a free public event aboard the USS Midway that will feature entertainment and Japanese food.

At the Board meeting following the vote, there was a gift exchange between the Port and Consul. The Port presented Consul Nakamura with a gift box of Godiva chocolates.

The Consul presented two gifts to the Port, represented by Board of Port Commissioners Chairman Lou Smith and Board Vice Chair Ann Moore. The gifts included a book on Kyoto’s courtyard gardens and several limited-edition calendars produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Each calendar month features a life-like picture showcasing the art of flower arrangement.

January, for example, features a pincushion flower and chlorathus glaber in a glass vase; February shows a Japanese apricot, mimosa and garden ranuculus in a ceramic vase; and August features a sunflower, a weeping willow, calla Solomon seal in an artistic vase.

Smith, a retired two-star admiral whose service took him to Washington, D.C., said he enjoyed many spring days walking along the Tidal Basin adorned with the cherry blossoms from the trees that were first planted there some 100 years ago.

The trees in San Diego will be planted near the Yokohama Friendship Bell on Shelter Island and Tuna Harbor Park near the USS Midway Museum. The precise locations are being studied by a landscape designer and arborist.

Smith said the trees will serve as a lasting symbol of the friendship between Japan and the United States while Nakamura said San Diego is a most appropriate place for the trees considering it is home to the military and many Japanese-Americans.

In 1912, the people of Japan sent 3,020 cherry trees to Washington, D.C. as a gift of friendship to the United States. First Lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Chinda, the wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two cherry trees on the northern bank of the Potomac River, near the Jefferson Memorial. The remaining trees were planted around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park.

The Pink Cloud cherry trees that will be planted will grow to a height of 12 feet to 16 feet. In bloom, the trees will be a deep red or light pink.

The offer to the city and Port is among more than 30 that are being made across the country to mark the centennial. The Embassy of Japan and the Consulates-General of Japan in the United States are coordinating the offers being made to other cities.

“This donation underscores our friendship with the people of Japan,” Smith said. “The tree planting ceremony will be a time to celebrate our ties with our friends across the Pacific.”

The Port of San Diego was created by the state legislature in 1962. Since then, it has invested $1.7 billion in public improvements in its five member cities – Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City, and San Diego. It is the fourth-largest of 11 deep water ports in California and the top port in the state for the movement of breakbulk cargo.

The Port District oversees two maritime cargo terminals, two cruise ship terminals, 17 public parks, the Harbor Police Department, and the leases of more than 600 tenant and sub tenant businesses around San Diego Bay.



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