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A gift from Japan takes root in Sebastopol

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012 | Posted by


BY CHRIS SMITH/The Press Democrat

The Consul General of Japan traveled to Sebastopol from San Francisco this past weekend to present Sonoma County a living gift of gratitude.


Taking part in the ceremonial planting of the cherry tree from Japan are, from the left, "Pasta King" Art Ibleto, Enmanji Buddhist Temple board President Kent Matsuda, Sebastopol Mayor Guy Wilson, Japanese Consul General from San Francisco Hiroshi Inomata, Sonoma County Japanese American Citizens League President Michael Bryant and Leaf Roberts of Sebastopol World Friends.

Hiroshi Inomata gave the county a young cherry tree during a benefit meal at the Enmanji Buddhist Temple that for a second year raised donations for victims of last year’s massively destructive earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The gift recognizes the friendship and generosity that Sonoma County people have extended to Japan not only since the disaster, but over the course of recent decades.

Japan is making gifts of cherry trees to communities throughout America to commemorate both the caring shown since the disaster and the anniversary of Japan’s presentation to the U.S. of more than 3,000 cherry trees in 1912. Most of those trees were planted along Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin.

“Cherry trees are part of the legacy of the friendship between Japan and the United States,” In0mata told the crowd at the temple on Gravenstein Highway South.

“A century later, we decided to plant again,” he said.

The tree will grow just outside the temple’s community hall. Joining the consul general in a planting ceremony were Sebastopol Mayor Guy Wilson, Kent Matsuda, president of the temple’s board; Leaf Roberts of Sebastopol World Friends, Sonoma County Japanese American Citizens League President Michael Bryant and “Pasta King” Art Ibleto, who donated the meal served at disaster relief benefit.

  • Cleo

    a tree? every time it blooms in future years, Japan will get credit for an orignal Chinese plant and tradition

    • sue

      really? that’s your comment? how infantile. nothing serves humanity more than people coming together, showing gestures of care and compassion in whatever way they choose. seems most would consider it an honor to have such traditions shared across cultures. imo.

  • Andrea Granahan

    How very gracious of the Japanese. More couteous people do not exist.

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Andrea Granahan is our West County correspondent.
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