Keiko Limshue, Seven Potatoes Society vice-president, shovels soil during a planting ceremony for 12 Japanese cherry blossom trees in Bowen Park. Society and Nanaimo city council members Robert Hewer, left, Yumiko Kakutani, Tami Hirasawa, Leonard Krog, Don Bonner, Brian Sugiyama, Jim Turley, Zeni Maartman and Ian Thorpe also took part in the ceremony. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Japanese-Canadian Society plants flowering cherry trees in Nanaimo’s Bowen Park

Seven Potatoes Society to plant 100 cherry blossom trees around Nanaimo

The Central Vancouver Island Japanese Canadian Society is putting down roots in Bowen Park and elsewhere in Nanaimo.

The society, also known as the Seven Potatoes Society – because Nanaimo translates to seven potatoes in Japanese – isn’t planting tubers, but Akebono flowering cherry trees (prunus x yedoensis ‘Akebono’). Society members set the first 12 of about 100 of the trees it hopes to plant throughout the city around Bowen Park’s lower picnic shelter at a ceremony Tuesday, Feb. 15. Four more of the trees will be planted at Rock Ridge Park later this year.

“Today we’re here to acknowledge, in a very tangible way, the relationship between Japan and British Columbia and Canada, but also to recognize the relationship between the city of Saitama, Japan, and the City of Nanaimo,” said Mayor Leonard Krog.

Saitama is Nanaimo’s ‘Friendship City’ and a relationship between the two municipalities is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The planting project has been endorsed by Saitama’s Mayor Hayato Shimizu.

Krog said the Japanese Canadian society and the tree planting represents a “lasting and tangible recognition of the important relationship between our cities, but also … the contribution of those of Japanese ancestry to this province’s development and this city’s development.”

“Later this year and for year after year we will see the beauty of this contribution to our community,” Krog said.

Tami Hirasawa, Seven Potatoes Society president, said the trees’ blossoms represent “the beauty and fleetingness of life.”

“The Akebono Japanese cherry trees, they bring beauty in the spring when they bloom and they don’t last very long, so they’re very fleeting and – the fleetingness of life – when they fall to the ground, you need to just seize the day and enjoy life and nature when they’re blooming,” Hirasawa said.

Keiko Limshue, society vice-president, has spearheaded the fundraising for the project.

“I started this project because I wanted to see more cherry blossom trees blooming in Nanaimo,” Limshue said. “When I was growing up in Japan I saw cherry blossoms blooming everywhere and they just brought a smile to my face and I’m hoping they will bring smiles to your faces and beauty to our city too.”

The society is continuing to raise funds to plant up to 100 of the trees throughout Nanaimo.

To learn more about the project and the Central Vancouver Island Japanese Canadian Society, visit www.sevenpotatoes.com.



photos@nanaimobulletin.com

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Musician Eutah Mizushima provides live musical entertainment for the ceremony on a shamisen, a three-stringed traditional Japanese instrument. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Musician Eutah Mizushima provides live musical entertainment for the ceremony on a shamisen, a three-stringed traditional Japanese instrument. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

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