Seedlings from A-bombed cherry tree to blossom nationwide

by Masayoshi Ishikawa, Staff Writer

The student council of Yasuda Girls’ High School in Hiroshima is cultivating seedlings to present schools in other parts of Japan with second-generation cherry trees from the original tree which is located on the school grounds and managed to survive the atomic bombing. Through caring for these seedlings, the students are learning firsthand about the force of life that kept the school’s cherry tree alive. They will deliver the seedlings to other schools starting this fall.

Yasuda Girls’ High School lies a distance of 2.1 kilometers from the hypocenter. At the time of the bombing, the Chugoku Military District Army Engineer Reserves was located at this site. The cherry tree still standing in this setting is approximately 5 meters in height and its trunk is 1.8 meters in circumference. The tree’s cherry blossoms again bloomed in full glory this past spring, almost 63 years after the bombing. The effort to cultivate seedlings from the tree began when Yasuda Gakuen, the educational corporation behind the school, received a request for seedlings from Tokyo’s Hosei University in the fall of 2007.

Student council leaders studied the process of nurturing these seedlings and launched their project in January 2008 with a mission of “transmitting the strength of the A-bombed cherry tree to other parts of Japan.” Receiving guidance from a graduate’s father who runs a landscaping business, they planted 29 seedlings, created from grafts of the A-bombed tree’s buds, in the field owned by the horticulture club.

In mid-April, the seedlings began to sprout and have since grown to 10-30 centimeters in height. Kana Shintani, 17, a student council leader, remarked, “I was so excited to see them grow. ‘They’re alive!’ I said.” Members of the student council will continue caring for the plants and present them to schools starting this fall. Through the council’s teacher advisor, ten schools in Iwate, Kagoshima, and other prefectures have already made requests to receive these second-generation cherry trees.

Rikako Okada, 17, president of the student council, commented, “The A-bombed tree is an eyewitness to history. When the second-generation trees take root in their new locations, I would like to talk about peace with the students at those schools.” Sachie Masuda, 18, another leader of the council, shares her dream for the young trees by saying, “In the future, I hope they’ll bloom all around the world.”