The goal of planting Japanese cherry trees on the Berkeley campus is to commemorate the Japanese American alumni. Covering decades of time, the Japanese American graduates have contributed to all sectors of society, and as a legacy and continuing recognition of Japanese Americans in the University of California system, the flowering cherry tree was selected.
The sakura, with its delicate blossoms, is celebrated throughout Japan, in Washington D.C. and many other cities in the U.S., and is part of the Japanese culture and heritage with a spirit of unity.
The project was conceived many years ago by George Matsumoto and later Bill Fujita. It lay dormant for years until 2009, when Asa Hanamoto and Kaz Abey, retired landscape architects, and Harold Kobayashi, principal with the firm of Royston Hanamoto Alley & Abey, volunteered to help. Jim Horner, campus landscape architect was contacted to discuss potential tree planting sites.
Since then, a site was secured, the design was finalized, and more than $200,000 was raised. The project became a reality through the efforts of UC Berkeley, the California Japanese American Alumni Association, and the Japanese American Women Alumnae of UC Berkeley.
Many individuals worked on the wording of the plaque, including Horner, Matsumoto, Hanamoto, Abey, Ted Ono, Frank Inami, Chizu Iiyama, Sara Ishikawa and Mas Riusaki. The result: “This grove of cherry trees stands as a legacy to the graduates of Japanese ancestry in recognition of their contribution to our society and as a tribute to the educational excellence of the University of California. — April 6, 2013, California Japanese American Alumni Association.”
For more information or to make a donation, visit www.cherrytreeproject.com/.