JAA Sakura Matsuri, a set on Flickr.
Did you know that there are 300 cherry trees in Flushing, Queens? The area near Queens Theatre in Corona Park is a hidden gem that is home to beautiful sakura, thanks to the Japanese American Association and the City of New York Parks and Recreation.
On Arbor Day 1992, then-JAA president Shigeru Inagaki presented the City of New York with Yamazakura and Somei-Yoshino cherry tree seeds that were donated by the Cherry Association of Japan. After the seeds were nursed in the greenhouses of Van Cortlandt Park, the City of New York received 168 trees on April 3, 2001, with the first Sakura Matsuri at Flushing Meadows being celebrated on April 12, 2003.
At this year’s Sakura Matsuri, guests took in the beauty of those cherry blossom trees while enjoying a taiko performance by Soh Daiko; Japanese songs by the JAA chorus, under the direction of conductor Yui Kitamura; the Children’s Marching Band of the Tenri Drum and Fife Corps; Hanagasa Ondo Parade with Momo Suzuki and the Japanese Folk Dance Institute; and a tea ceremony demonstration on the lawn.
The area of sakura received a new member. Members of JAA and Parks and Recreation planted a weeping cherry tree in memory of former Consul General Shinichi Nishimiya, who died suddenly in September of last year, days after being named Japan’s Ambassador to China. JAA also established a scholarship in Ambassador Nishimiya’s name.