A ceremony will take place Friday, Nov. 2, at 4 p.m. dedicating a grove of 24 cherry blossom trees at the new Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles.

The ceremony, sponsored by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, will be held in the Flag Garden, 210 N. Grand Ave. between Hill Street and North Broadway Avenue.

A plaque will be unveiled highlighting the friendship between the U.S. and Japan. Remarks will be given by county and city officials, including Supervisor Gloria Molina and Grand Park Director Lucas Rivera, and Consul General Jun Niimi.

“Grand Park is the park for everyone, an oasis of green space in the heart of L.A’s Civic Center,” said Molina. “So when American Forests and the Japanese Consulate of Los Angeles approached Los Angeles County with the gift of two dozen cherry trees, we knew this symbol of goodwill and friendship between Japan and the U.S. would fit in perfectly at Grand Park.”

The donation of the trees to Grand Park by American Forests is part of the 2012 Japan-U.S. Cherry Blossom Centennial Nationwide Tree Planting Initiative sponsored by Pfizer, the Japan Commerce Association of Washington D.C., the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York, and Huntington Library.

This year marks the centennial of the original gift of cherry blossom trees from Japan to the U.S. – and some of the trees from 1912 still bloom beautifully every spring at the Tidal Basin along the Potomac River near the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. The gift was made possible by the contribution of many people, including First Lady Helen Taft; journalist and world traveler Eliza Scidmore; trenowned Japanese chemist Dr. Jokichi Takamine, famous for his pioneering research on adrenaline and Takadiastase; and Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki.

In 1909, Ozaki made a gift of 2,000 cherry blossom trees to Washington, D.C. However, all had to be destroyed when found to be infested with harmful insects. In 1912, another 3,000 cherry blossom trees were presented, and the first of these were planted at the Tidal Basin by Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Iwa Chinda, wife of Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Sutemi Chinda, on March 27, 1912.

The consulate is also sponsoring the Cherry Blossom Centennial Concert: A Touch of Tokyo, immediately following the dedication ceremony from 4:45 to 6 p.m. Featured performers include Heavenese, a fusion R&B gospel group from Tokyo, and comedian Rome Kanda, host of the 2008 reality show “MAJIDE!? I Survived a Japanese Game Show.”

Next to the stage, Japanese fusion food trucks will be offering sushi rolls and other favorites. For those interested in Japan, tourism information and Japanese language learning opportunities will be provided.

For information on the event, visit http://www.la.us.emb-japan.go.jp/sakuraconcert.htm.

For more information on Heavenese, visit http://www.heavenese.jp/english/index.html.


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