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Eastchester Schools Show Solidarity With Japan During Cherry Tree Planting

Eastchester parent Chiaki Umemoto spearheaded the initiative to plant sakura cherry trees at each of the school district's five schools. Photo Credit: Eastchester Schools
Eastchester parent Chiaki Umemoto with members of the school administration at the sakura cherry tree planting. Photo Credit: Eastchester Schools
The Eastchester High School orchestra serenaded the crowd during the ceremony. Photo Credit: Eastchester Schools
Eastchester Schools Superintendent Walter Moran planting the first sakura cherry tree. Photo Credit: Eastchester Schools

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. - East met West on Wednesday in Eastchester, with the planting of five traditional Japanese sakura cherry trees and plaques at each of the town’s schools.

The “bonds of friendship between Japan and the United States were celebrated” on Wednesday, with the ceremonial planting of sakura trees that will blossom anew on school grounds each spring reminding the town of ties that bind the two cultures.

Several months ago, the idea of planting the trees was born by Eastchester parent Chiaki Umemoto, who kick started a drive to raise the funds for the purchase of sakura cherry trees, which are prominently featured in traditional Japanese literature, poetry and art.

Eastchester High School Prinicpal Jefffrey Capuano said that the ceremony was reminiscent of a similar, larger event that took place in Washington D.C. more than a century ago, when 3,000 sakura blossom trees were presented from Tokyo to the nation’s capital.

“People from all over the country and the world now travel to our nation’s capital every spring to enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms and what they represent,” he said. “What took the (National Geographic Society) 27 years to accomplish a century ago, Mrs. Umemoto successfully completed in a few short months in Eastchester.”

According to Eastchester Schools Superintendent Walter Moran, the cherry blossoms are viewed as living symbols of friendship in Japanese culture.

“As these sakura trees blossom each spring, their magnificent beauty will remind us of the strong international ties between the United States and Japan,” he added. “(It also reminds us) of the close kinship between the Japanese and American students and families who are part of our Eastchester community.

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