JFLA to Screen ‘Yoko the Cherry Blossom’

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A special encore screening of “Yoko the Cherry Blossom” (2015, 115 minutes), directed by Gen Takahashi, on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 1 p.m. at the Japan Foundation Los Angeles, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 100, Los Angeles.

Based on an inspiring true story, the film chronicles the life of Masaaki Takaoka, a high school teacher in rural Japan during World War II. His beloved students get called upon to join the imperial forces’ last-ditch efforts. He has no choice but to send them off, with the promise that they would all meet again under the beautiful cherry blossoms on the school grounds upon their return, despite knowing the odds of their survival are slim to none.

Masaaki, his young wife Tsuyako, and infant son Seido survive the air raids, but most of Japan is in ruins. With no more desire to teach, he resigns from his position at the school and spends his days working on the family farm. He dedicates his life to creating a new type of cherry tree that can blossom anywhere, in any climate, so that the spirits of his students would have a place to meet, just like he promised.

After more than 30 years, a stubborn Masaaki does the impossible, successfully creating Yoko, the first-ever artificially created cherry blossom. Despite Seido’s insistence to turn Yoko into a business, Masaaki donates the beautiful trees to anyone who wants them, eventually giving away more than 30,000 cherry trees to countries around the world as a symbol of world peace and harmony.

The cast includes Takashi Sasano, Yuki Kazamatsuri, Koji Matoba, Maki Miyamoto, Naomi Hase, Hironobu Nomura, Maiko Kawakami, Shota Sasano and Masahiko Tsugawa.

JFLA provides high-quality Japanese film screenings every second and fourth Wednesday. Free to attend. Reservation is not required. Street parking is available. For more information, call (323) 761-7510 or visit www.jflalc.org.

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