Hiroshima high school students send overseas the pressed cherry blossoms from A-bombed tree

(by Kyoko Niiyama, Staff Writer)

A pair of Hiroshima high school students are engaged in a project to send handmade sheets of pressed cherry blossoms from an A-bombed cherry tree to people and schools overseas forced to cancel visits to Hiroshima due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The students hope they can share their wish for a peaceful world with the recipients despite the considerable geographic distance.

The cherry-blossom sheets are created by Shirabe Nakahara, 15, and Aiko Ishiyama, 16, first-year students at Hiroshima Jogakuin Senior High School. Ms. Nakahara and Ms. Ishiyama collected the cherry blossoms when the A-bombed cherry tree was in bloom. The tree is located on the grounds of Ikari Shrine, in Hakushimakuken-cho, Naka Ward, 1.8 kilometers from the hypocenter. The students dried the flowers and placed around 20 of them between special sheets designed for such artwork.

The two students engage in peace activities at the non-profit organization (NPO) ANT-Hiroshima, in Naka Ward. They sent a flower sheet to Ms. Lee Karen Stow, a photographer living in the United Kingdom, included with which were messages including one indicating that their desire for peace reach the photographer. Ms. Stow had planned to take photographs in Hiroshima starting in April with support from the NPO, aiming at the creation of images related to the theme of A-bombed trees.

ANT-Hiroshima has received paper cranes from schools and other organizations overseas expressing wishes for an end to the pandemic. Ms. Nakahara and Ms. Ishiyama will dedicate those paper cranes to the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, as well as send pressed cherry-blossom sheets as a return gift to those who sent the cranes.

“I think it’s important now to support each other,” said Ms. Nakahara. As for Ms. Ishiyama, she said, “I want to discuss peace with the others in person at some different point in the future.”

(Originally published on June 22, 2020)