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In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the gifting of cherry blossom trees that sit along the Potomac in Washington, D.C., the Consul General of Japan to Boston Takeshi Hikihara presented a cherry blossom tree to BSU.
The consul general was accompanied by his wife, Hammi, and Vice Consul Mika Iga, for the gift-giving ceremony held on the Boyden Hall garden.
President [b]Dana Mohler-Faria[/b] accepted the cherry blossom ("sakura" in Japanese) on behalf of the university, saying it was a distinct honor to celebrate the event with his Japanese guests.
"Together this afternoon we will plant a cherry blossom tree as a symbol of the century-long relationship between this institution, the United States and Japan," he said.
On hand to celebrate the event were [b]Dr. Michael J. Kryzanek[/b], director of global studies and executive director of international engagement, and [b]Frederick Clark[/b], executive vice president and vice president for External Affairs.
The first cherry blossoms were presented as gifts to the people of the United States from Japan on March 27, 1912, in Washington, D.C. President Mohler-Faria said BSU was honored to accept the gift on the event's centennial anniversary.
"To commemorate this landmark year, Bridgewater State University has been given the honor of being one of only a handful of sites in the United States to be given a cherry tree to commemorate this relationship," said the president. "We're grateful for this honor and thank the Consul General for his generosity."
The relationship between the nation of Japan and BSU dates back more than 135 years to when Japan native [b]Shuje Isawa[/b] came to Bridgewater to study, graduated in 1875, and returned home to help found the nation's public school system.
In his remarks, Consul General Hikihara said he was "deeply honored" to be invited back to Bridgewater, noting that he spoke at the university a year ago following a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. "I speak for all of the people of my country when I express my thanks to the citizens of America and to the people of Bridgewater State University who provided such important help to us when we most needed it."
The consul general said he wished to make a few points about the cherry blossom before planting. For starters, the cherry blossom tree is a symbol of the arrival of spring after a cold winter and reflects renewal and rebirth, he said. "This is especially true this year, after the trauma my country suffered last year," he said, referring to the earthquake in 2011.
Additionally, the cherry blossom tree symbolized Japan's gratitude for the friendship and goodwill of the United States, as well as the special relationship between Japan and BSU. "We have a very successful educational exchange program, which adds more pages to the story of how Bridgewater State and the people of Japan cooperate and collaborate," he said.
BSU entered into partnerships with Japanese institutions several decades ago, which have since produced student and faculty exchange programs with Wakayama or Kansai universities. Last year BSU created its first-ever international alumni chapter in Japan, where there are 115 alumni.
In concluding his remarks, the consul general said the cherry blossom tree planted at BSU represents a bridge between Japan and the United States. "As it grows, so too will our partnership, which is already very old and has many different branches," he said. (David K. Wilson, '71, University Advancement)
A photo montage of the Cherry Blossom Centennial celebration.
Remarks from President Dana Mohler-Faria and Consul General Takeshi Hikihara, as well as the groundbreaking for the cherry tree.