Volunteer tree planters in San Francisco Japantown’s Buchanan Mall. (Photo by Greg Vilora, JTF staff)

SAN FRANCISCO — Thanks to the combined effort of a number of organizations and volunteers, new cherry trees now grace portions of Laguna and Sutter streets and the Buchanan Mall in San Francisco Japantown.

It took the Department of Public Works (DPW) to remove some stumps, the Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) to provide instructions on the planting of the trees, a cadre of volunteers, many from Japanese Community Youth Council’s Japantown Youth Leaders (JYL), to dig the holes, plant and stake the trees, then clean up, and the Nihonmachi Parking Corporation (NPC) to provide bottled water, pay for the cherry trees, and give gift certificates for the JYL volunteers.

“The NPC decided to replace the damaged and diseased cherry trees in the (Buchanan) Mall as well as have the sidewalks power-washed before this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival,” said Jim Yonashiro, manager of the NPC. “Decomposed granite will be placed over each of the tree wells to minimize the growth of weeds yet still allow water to penetrate and reach the roots.”

The FUF staff was instrumental seeing that the trees were properly prepared and planted, as well as placing the stakes and strapping to prevent the trees from being affected by the wind.

“Their energy and commitment to the greening of the city was obvious to the volunteers,” said Greg Marutani of the Japantown Task Force (JTF) staff. who coordinated the various organizations involved with the planting. “Everyone I contacted were very willing to participate in the project, especially Sally Bentz from FUF, who took care of the bulk of the tasks.”

The trees along Laguna and Sutter were donated by the Sakura 150 Cherry Tree Project to commemorate the first Japanese government delegation to Washington, which arrived in San Francisco aboard the Kanrin Maru in 1860.

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