By Whitney Hale
In 1912, an incredible gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees was bestowed on Washington, D.C. by Tokyo, Japan. Rooted strongly and surviving outside elements, the trees have withstood the test of time and become a beloved treasure of our nation's capital. Nearly a century later, the friendship between Japan and Kentucky is preparing for an unprecedented and once-in‐a‐lifetime centennial celebration of this gift as the Japan/America Society of Kentucky (JASK) paint the state and University of Kentucky campus pink.
In honor of this international friendship between Kentucky and Japan, the Embassy of Japan and the Consul General of Japan in Nashville, Tenn., has awarded the JASK 20 offspring from the original cherry blossom trees to be donated to the Commonwealth of Kentucky to share in the 100th anniversary of the gift of trees.
Four of these cherry blossom trees will make their new home at UK. A dedication ceremony is scheduled in recognition of this gift at 11:45 a.m. Thursday, April 26, at the White Hall Classroom Building front lawn. The dedication ceremony is free and open to the public.
In May, JASK will also present the inaugural Cherry Blossom Festival in honor of this momentous occasion and the state's new cherry blossom trees. The festival is scheduled for May 12, in downtown Lexington and is expected to become an annual event.
Established in 1987, JASK is a nonprofit, nonpolitical membership organization dedicated to promoting a better understanding of the business, cultural and social practices and customs of Japan and Kentucky. Headquartered in Lexington, JASK provides member events and services throughout the state.
The cherry blossom dedication ceremony at UK is being made possible with help from UK's Japan Studies Program and the Asia Center.
The Japan Studies Program at UK College of Arts and Sciences is an interdisciplinary program that offers courses in Japanese geography, history, arts, sociology, environmental studies and anthropology. By studying Japanese language, literature and culture, UK students obtain a solid base to advance their explorations of Japan.
The Asia Center's mission at the university is to be a catalyst for educational and professional opportunities to engage with Asia’s peoples, cultures, heritages, geographies, languages, arts, sciences, economies and technologies.