Cherry tree planting ceremony in Oadby celebrates Japan-UK relationship

Published: Wednesday, 22 December 2021

Japanese tree planting at Brocks Hill. Pictured Mayor Lily Kaufman, MP Neil O'Brien and Cllr David Carter

Three Japanese cherry trees, or ‘sakura’, gifted to the Borough of Oadby & Wigston by Japan have been planted at a ceremony at Brocks Hill Country Park in Oadby.

The trees planted by Oadby & Wigston Borough Council (OWBC) were threeof 6,500 given to the UK under the Sakura Cherry Tree Project, which was created to celebrate the relationship between the two countries and to mark 150 years of Japan-UK friendship.

In total 12 cherry trees gifted by the project will be planted within the Borough of Oadby & Wigston, at Uplands Park, Peace Memorial Park and William Gunning Park alongside Brocks Hill Country Park.

The project is a planned legacy of the Japan-UK Season of Culture, which began in 2019. As this now comes to an end, the British public have been given a permanent reminder of the relationship between the two nations, and the lasting opportunity to enjoy the famous blossoms each year.

The planting took place on Wednesday 22 December and was attended by the Mayor of Oadby & Wigston Lily Kaufman, Oadby & Wigston MP Neil O’Brien, and Councillor David Carter, Chair of the borough council’s Environment Working Group.

A commemorative plaque designed by renowned Japanese artist Kenya Hara will soon also be installed, so visitors to the park will be able to identify the trees.

In Japan ‘Sakura Season’ is celebrated nationwide with festivals, viewing events and picnics every spring when the trees blossom. It is hoped that by planting the trees in public, open spaces as many people as possible in the UK will take the opportunity to enjoy these Japanese traditions.

There are many species of sakura, and the three trees planted at Brocks Hill Country Park are from the species ‘Beni-yutaka’, ‘Taihaku’, and ‘Somei-yoshino’, which were chosen for their variation in colour and timing and their historical significance. For example, ‘Taihaku’ became extinct in Japan but was reintroduced to its homeland by Britain’s Collingwood 'Cherry' Ingram in 1932.

Councillor David Carter, Chair of the Environment Working Group at OWBC, said: “I would like to thank the Sakura Cherry Tree Project for their donation to our Borough, helping to make it that little be greener. I hope that the trees and their blossoms will be enjoyed by local residents for many years to come, while also raising awareness of Japanese culture for those that discover them in our green spaces.

MP for Oadby & Wigston Neil O’Brien said: “This is a symbol of the important relationship and international friendship we enjoy with Japan and its peoples. It’s very fitting that this is in the form of these trees as we commit to making Oadby & Wigston greener, and I’d like to thank all involved in the project and helping to bring this to fruition, so the trees can be enjoyed for years and decades to come.”

Yasumasa Nagamine, Japanese Ambassador to the UK said: “We hope that people all over Britain 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 and the UK. 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 the UK and remind them of the deep friendship between our two nations and peoples.”