Philadelphia, PA (April 19, 2019) — The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP) welcomed Gifu Sakura no Kai, a volunteer cherry blossom tree planting group from Japan, to Philadelphia on Friday, April 19. Gifu Sakura no Kai planted five blossoming cherry trees along Avenue of the Republic near a footpath that leads to Shofuso, the Japanese house and garden in West Fairmount Park.
Before beginning the tree planting, the group toured Shofuso, where executive director Kim Andrews shared the history of Philadelphia’s connections with Japan, which date back to the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. The tree planting, which took place nearby Philadelphia’s Memorial Hall, adds to Fairmount Park’s abundant cherry blossoms and acts as a bookend to the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival, which ran from April 6-14, 2019.
Founded in Gifu, Japan in 2001, Sakura No Kai’s activities originates from the actions of Mr. Ryoji Sato (1929-1977), a conductor of Japan’s National Railways’ Nagare Express line. Mr. Sato planted cherry trees along the route, which connected Nagoya (which faces the Pacific Ocean) and Kanazawa (which faces the Sea of Japan) as a symbol of peace from shore to shore.
Inspired by Mr. Sato’s actions, Gifu Sakura no Kai have planted 6,634 trees across Japan and 6,511 trees in 41 cities across the world since 1993 as a way of promoting international cherry blossom culture, and have visited Adelaide, Australia, New Delhi, India, and Wahiawa, Hawaii.
The exchange of cherry trees between Japan and Philadelphia goes back to 1926, when the Japanese government gifted 1,600 flowering trees to the city of Philadelphia in honor of the 150th anniversary of American independence. From 1998 to 2007, JASGP planted over 1,000 trees around the city, embodying the goodwill between Japan and Philadelphia. Groves of cherry trees can be found at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, behind Memorial Hall, along Kelly Drive, and surrounding the Art Museum and Waterworks.
The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia is a private nonprofit organization that has brought Philadelphia and Japan closer together for more than 25 years through art, business, and culture. JASGP operates Shofuso, produces the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival, and presents the US-Japan Business and Public Policy Series, as well as other arts, business, culture, and educational programming for all ages. For more information, visit japanphilly.org.
Shofuso is a traditional Japanese house and garden located in West Fairmount Park. Shofuso is open for weekday admissions to the public from March 24 to October 31, Wednesdays through Fridays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Adult admission is $12; senior citizens, students with ID and children ages 5-17 admission is $8; ACCESS card holders’ admission is $2; and JASGP members, active duty military with ID and children under 5 are admitted free. Shofuso is located at Horticultural and Lansdowne Drs., Philadelphia, PA 19131. For more information, including special hours and admission, visit japanphilly.org.