Japanese cherry trees commemorate UC alumni

A seed planted several years ago at a meeting of the California Japanese American Alumni Association reached fruition this weekend, with Saturday’s formal dedication of a Japanese cherry tree grove at the West Circle of the Berkeley campus.

Berkeley sociologist Michael Omi, an associate professor of Asian American studies, speaks at Saturday’s dedication. (Peg Skorpinski photo)

“This grove of cherry trees,” reads the plaque installed at the site, “stands as a legacy to the graduates of Japanese ancestry in recognition of their contribution to our society and as a tribute to the educational excellence of the University of California.”

According to the West Gate Cherry Tree Project website, the flowering cherry tree, or sakura  well-known to visitors of Washington, D.C.  is celebrated throughout Japan, and is part of the Japanese culture and heritage. Both the culture and the heritage were on display Saturday, as gatherers  including project donors and alumni of Japanese descent  were treated to musical performances by San Jose Taiko and Public Affairs’ own Shirley Wong, a Berkeley graduate herself, who played the koto.

The grove will be managed by UC Berkeley Capital Projects.