The City of Markham is blooming with 120 Japanese Sakura trees after being gifted an additional 40 trees to commemorate the 95th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Canada.
“For the City of Markham, these Sakura cherry blossom trees represent many things, including a long friendship and partnership with Japan that goes back to more than 30 years ago when the first Japanese companies saw the outstanding potential in Markham and began investing in our wonderful city,” says Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti.
The trees were planted at Toogood Pond in Unionville on June 3 and were gifted by Chako Setoyama and James Matsumoto of the Sakura Project Committee in Toronto, and Masatoshi Nozaki, Kyoko Murakami and Kentoku Moriyama of the Sakura Project Committee in Japan. A ceremonial plaque was unveiled at the event.
The donation is in addition to 3,000 Sakura trees planted in various locations around southern Ontario in the early 2000s. In 1959, the Japanese ambassador to Canada presented 2,000 Sakura trees to High Park from the citizens of Tokyo in appreciation of Toronto accepting re-located Japanese-Canadians following the Second World War.
“2023 marks the 95th anniversary of Japan-Canada relations and this gift of Sakura is an excellent symbol of the deep and lasting friendship that Markham enjoys with Japan,” says Consul-General Sasayama Takuya.
Sakura is one of Japan’s national flowers and is filled with symbolism. Its brief but intense bloom is an enduring expression of life, death and renewal. In Ontario, Sakura typically blooms delicate pink or white flowers in late April or early May, lasting anywhere from four to 10 days depending on weather conditions. Many people take part in the centuries-old tradition of ‘hanami,’ the Japanese term for ‘flower viewing.’
This donation is the second of its kind for Markham. In 2018, 80 trees were donated to the city and planted at Markham Civic Centre, Rougeside Promenade and Milne Dam Park. The trees not only contribute to the natural beauty of Markham but also add to the city’s tree canopy, providing new habitats for wildlife and creating new attractions for residents and tourists to visit during the spring.
Japan is Markham’s second-largest source of foreign direct investment. Markham is home to 20 Japanese businesses – including Honda Canada, Shiseido Canada Inc., Weins Canada and Toshiba of Canada Ltd. – that together employ about 3,400 people.
Photo (L-R): James Matsumoto, Advisor, Sakura Project Committee in Toronto; Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti; Chako Setoyama, Chair, Sakura Project Committee in Toronto; and Sasayama Takuya, Consul-General of Japan in Toronto. (City of Markham photo)