History of the ‘Sakura Project’
On April 1, 1959, Japanese ambassador to Canada, Toru-Hagiwara, presented 2000 Japanese Somei-Yoshino Sakurathe on behalf of the citizens of Tokyo, Japan as a gift to the citizens of Toronto for their support of Japanese-Canadian refugees after the Second World War. Many of the trees were planted along High Park Trail and around Grenadier Pond which to this day stands as the most impressive grove of sakura // cherry blossom trees in the park and city.
Since then, the city of Toronto in conjunction with the Consulate General of Japan, created the “Sakura Project” which has continued to plant additional Sakura // Cherry Blossom trees in High Park and throughout the city in the spirit of continued friendship between Toronto and the people of Japan.
In High Park, there are currently three (3) plaques commemorating the various donated plantings over the years – see examples below:
April 1, 1959
Plaque commemorating the event loacted part way down the walking path reads:
THIS JAPANESE CHERRY TREE (Someiyoshino Prunus Yedoensis Matsum)
One of 2000, presented to the citizens of Toronto by the citizens of metropolitan Tokyo was planted by
His Excellency Toru Hagiwara,
Japanese Ambassador to Canada
his Worship, Nathan Phillips, Q.C.,
Mayor of the City of Toronto
Wednesday, April 1, 1959
Tradition of Sakura Hanami
Sakura Hanami is the Japanese translation for “cherry blossom viewing” or “flower viewing”.
Sakura is the Japanese translation for “cherry blossom” or “flower”.
The appropriate pronunciation is ‘sah–k00-rah‘ with emphasis on first syllable and the last two parts are said quickly together as if they were one syllable.
Every year the Sakura blossom for a brief period in early spring with the length of the blooms vary from 1-2 weeks, depending on weather conditions.
How does weather effect the Sakura?
Extreme cold and hot temperatures can shorten the life span of the blooming flowers. Heavy rain and strong winds can force the petals to fall from the tree prematurely as well.
Sakura bloom best when the weather is sunny, warm and can be enjoyed to view for up to 2 weeks!
In 2012, the unusually mild and warm winter had pushed the blooms much earlier into early April. In the last 10 years previous the Sakura would usually bloom in late April to early May (give or take a few days) as the longer, colder winter of 2013 proved to push the bloom into the first weekend of May.
Why is the significance of the Sakura // Cherry Blossoms and what do they symbolize?
The Sakura – Cherry Blossom is the national flower of Japan. The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture represents the fragility and the beauty of life. The brief bloom period of the blossoms act as a reminder that life can be incredibly beautiful but that it is also tragically short.
It’s in this spirit that we all should take the time to cherish and appreciate the people in our lives and be grateful to all the wonderful moments gifted to us each and every day.