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Welsh launch of the Sakura Cherry Tree project

4th December 2020

Welsh launch of the Sakura Cherry Tree project

1,000 cherry trees to be planted in parks and schools across Wales

The First Minister of Wales, The Rt. Hon Mark Drakeford, will join Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine, Japan’s Ambassador to the UK, for the first formal planting in Wales of the 1,000 cherry trees gifted to public parks and schools across Wales to celebrate the enduring friendship between Wales and Japan. The initiative will be a lasting legacy from the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2020 and is made possible by donations from Japanese businesses.

St Fagans National Museum of History, has received twenty cherry trees, some of the first trees to be planted in Wales.

The Sakura Cherry Trees will be distributed to over 65 schools and colleges all over Wales and to the cities of Cardiff, Bangor, St. Asaph, Swansea and Newport.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire and Conwy Castle in North Wales, twinned with Himeji Castle in Japan, will also receive trees.

The Welsh Launch of the project will take place today Friday, 4 December, 2020) with a planting ceremony at St Fagans attended by Mrs Morfudd Meredith, Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan, Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine, Mark Drakeford, MS, First Minister of Wales, the Joint Chairman of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project, Keisaku Sandy Sano and local schoolchildren from the Japanese Saturday School and Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg, Plasmawr, Cardiff.

All of the varieties of cherry trees to be planted as part of this project are of Japanese origin.  The vast majority will be of three varieties, ‘Beni-yutaka’, ‘Taihaku’, and ‘Somei-yoshino’, which have been chosen for their variation in colour, timing, and historical significance. For example, ‘Taihaku’ is a large, single white blossom variety, which became extinct in Japan but was reintroduced to its homeland by Britain’s Collingwood ‘Cherry’ Ingram in 1932.

Most of the 1,000 trees will be planted across Wales this autumn 2020, following the planting of the trees in St. Fagans.  This permanent and lasting symbol of the enduring friendship between Wales and Japan has been entirely funded by Japanese businesses and individuals.

Yasumasa Nagamine, Japanese Ambassador to the UK said, “We hope that people all over Wales will join with us in embracing this chance to deepen mutual understanding, thus helping to create an enduring legacy.

Yet the Sakura Cherry Tree Project will not just represent the lasting impact of the Japan-UK Season of Culture but will be a wider celebration of the cordial ties between Japan, the UK and Wales.

Just like our relationship, these trees will grow stronger as they mature and, each year when they blossom, I hope they bring joy to people across Wales and remind them of the deep friendship between our two nations and peoples.“

Keisaku Sandy Sano, Founder and Joint Chairman of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project Team said “The response we have had from all across Wales, has been amazing.  It is testament to the strong relationship between our countries, and we hope the trees will be a lasting tribute to that.  Many Japanese corporations have decided to, through the Japan-British Society, generously donate to this project. I am deeply grateful for all the efforts and support given by people and corporations both in Japan and UK to this project.”

Keith Dunn, OBE, Honorary Consul for Japan in Wales said “Wales and Japan have a strong relationship developed over more than 100 years. At the heart of the relationship is a desire for mutual understanding and to learn from each other’s way of life, culture and history.

These trees are a strong symbol of our friendship that can be supported and enjoyed by future generations and I hope these plantings, particularly at this current time, will be embraced by our communities for the future.”

David Anderson, Director General, Amgueddfa Cymru said: “We are delighted to be involved in the Sakura Cherry Tree Project. Two years ago, we were proud to host, at National Museum Cardiff, KIZUNA: Japan | Wales | Design – the most significant exhibition on Japanese culture ever staged in the four nations outside London. Major Japanese museums have recently hosted a touring exhibition of works of art from our collections, and we plan further collaborations.

The Sakura Cherry Tree Project is a testament to the strong relationship between Wales and Japan, and a lasting symbol of the Japan-UK Season of Culture. The cherry trees will be enjoyed by visitors of St Fagans National Museum of History for years to come.”

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