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His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester and Japanese Ambassador to the UK Yasumasa Nagamine, as well as the Founder and Joint Chairman of Sakura Cherry Tree Project Keisaku Sandy Sano will be joined by children from Robinsfield Infant School and George Eliot Primary School for the first formal planting of the 6,500 Japanese cherry trees – or Sakura in Japanese – gifted to the UK by Japan, at a ceremony in The Regent’s Park, one of London’s eight Royal Parks.

The event will mark the launch of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project, which will see the planting of the trees across the UK’s parks, gardens and schools to celebrate Japan’s relationship with the UK.

The project will be a legacy from the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2020, which aims to showcase Japan’s multifaceted attractions in the UK. The Season provides the opportunity to learn more about Japan, its culture and people through hundreds of events ranging from arts, sports, cuisine and performance.  Once the Season ends, members of the public will start to witness the 1000s of cherry trees blossom in spring 2020 and beyond.

Alongside the guests from UK government, parliament, donor companies and cherry tree recipients, pupils from Robinsfield Infant School and George Eliot Primary School will attend the November planting ceremony to mark the legacy of this special relationship for generations to come.

The Sakura Cherry Trees will be distributed to 400 schools and 160 sites across the UK from St Ives to Aberdeen to Londonderry and several of London’s biggest parks. The planting ceremony at The Regent’s Park will mark the donation of  125 cherry trees from the project to London’s Royal Parks - to be planted across The Regent’s Park, Richmond Park, Bushy Park and St James’s Park.

All of the varieties of cherry trees to be planted as part of this project are of Japanese origin.  The vast majority will be of three varieties, ‘Beni-yutaka’, ‘Taihaku’, and ‘Somei-yoshino’, which have been chosen for their variation in colour, timing, and historical significance. For example, ‘Taihaku’ is a large, single white blossom variety, which became extinct in Japan but was reintroduced to its homeland by Britain’s Collingwood 'Cherry' Ingram in 1932.

Most of the 6,500 trees will be planted across the UK in autumn 2020, following the planting of 125 trees in The Royal Parks in autumn 2019.  Frank P Matthews nursery in Tenbury Wells in Worcestershire is the main supplier of the trees. The renowned Japanese artist, Kenya Hara has provided the design of the commemorative plaques.  This permanent and lasting symbol of the enduring friendship between the UK and Japan is entirely funded by Japanese businesses and individuals and managed by the Sakura Cherry Tree Project team.

The Duke of Gloucester is patron of the Japan Society which aims to improve understanding of the cultures, societies and businesses of Japan and the UK.

The Duke of Gloucester said, “What better way to commemorate the long standing friendship between the people of the United Kingdom and Japan, than the planting of Japanese cherry trees that will live on for future generations to enjoy.  I would like to congratulate all of those involved to make possible such a worthwhile project.“

Yasumasa Nagamine, Japanese Ambassador to the UK said, “We hope that people all over Britain will join with us in embracing this chance to deepen mutual understanding, thus helping to create an enduring legacy. Yet the Sakura Cherry Tree Project will not just represent the lasting impact of the Japan-UK Season of Culture but will be a wider celebration of the cordial ties between Japan and the UK. Just like our relationship, these trees will grow stronger as they mature and, each year when they blossom, I hope they bring joy to people across the UK and remind them of the deep friendship between our two nations and peoples. “

Keisaku Sandy Sano, Founder and Joint Chairman of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project Team said “The response we have had from all across the UK, from Guernsey in the south to the Orkneys in the north, from parks and schools across the UK has been amazing.  It is testament to the strong relationship between the two countries, and we hope the trees will be a lasting tribute to that.”

Takashi Tsukamoto, Joint Chairman of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project Team said, “Many Japanese corporations have decided to, through the Japan-British Society, generously donate to this project to celebrate a long friendship between our two nations. I am deeply grateful for all the efforts and support given by people and corporations both in Japan and UK to this project.”

Nick Biddle, Park Manager of The Regent’s Park, The Royal Parks, said:

“This wonderful gift of cherry blossoms will further enrich this historic park, providing beautiful blossoms in Spring and sensational colour in Autumn, so that generations to come can enjoy the natural beauty of these very special trees which embody our love of nature and our friendship with Japan.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Sakura Cherry Tree Project website: https://japanuksakura.org/

If you are interested in covering the event, please email press@ld.mofa.go.jp by 17:00 on 20 November to register.

For more information about the project, interview and image requests please contact Lady Victoria Borwick, victoria@borwick.com 07770 533858.

For more information about The Royal Parks please contact the Royal Park’s Press office, press@royalparks.org.uk, 0300 061 2128

Background information

About the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2020

The Japan-UK Season of Culture will unfold in 2019 and 2020, when Japan hosts two sporting landmarks: the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.  It seeks to build on the British people’s keen interest in these events by showcasing Japan’s multifaceted attractions.

About the Japan-British Society, Tokyo

The Japan-British Society was founded in 1908 to encourage the study of all things British and to promote cordial relations between the peoples of the United Kingdom and Japan. Today this thriving body has over 1,700 members and is supported by some 80 Japanese and British companies. It provides an important and attractive forum within which members of both nationalities can meet on an informal and friendly basis, with an interest in all things British as the common denominator.  The Society offers British members an unrivalled opportunity to find out more about Japan and the Japanese, and the many activities allow frequent social contact.

About The Royal Parks:

The Royal Parks is the charity that exists to make sure London’s eight historic royal parks will always be there to enrich the lives of local residents and visitors to London.

The charity looks after eight of London’s largest open spaces: Hyde Park, The Green Park, Richmond Park, Greenwich Park, St James’s Park, Bushy Park, The Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, and Kensington Gardens.

Follow The Royal Parks on Twitter @theroyalparks, Facebook.com/TheRoyalParksLondon and Instagram.com/TheRoyalParks



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