CAMP ZAMA, Japan (April 1, 2021) – A young cherry blossom tree U.S. and Japanese representatives planted together on a shared area of Sagami General Depot symbolizes a commitment to the friendship between the installation and the city in which it resides, one participant said.
Kenneth Estabrook, representing U.S. Army Garrison Japan, said at the March 25 event that the joint tree-planting with members of Kanagawa City’s Chuo Ward also served to strengthen the broader relationship between the U.S. Army and Japan. The tree was one of 60 the Chuo Ward donated that were planted on Sagami Depot’s “joint-use” area.
“Japan and the United States have a long tradition of recognizing the cherry blossom as a symbol of peace, friendship and partnership,” said Estabrook, assigned to the Directorate of Public Works and the chief Sagami sub-facility engineer.
In addition to the trees’ symbolic significance, the iconic pink-white flowers that cover their branches each spring also provide the installation an aesthetic benefit, Estabrook said. It will take about a decade for the trees to mature to a height of 10 to 15 feet and a diameter of about 20 feet, he said. After that, the cherry blossoms bloom between February and April.
“The development of the joint-use park and the planting of these cherry trees will beautify the landscape for generations to come and bring our communities even closer together,” Estabrook said. “These trees will be a long-lasting legacy under [our] well-trained staff … who maintain the landscape here.”
Chuo Ward Director Masayuki Fujita said the idea to donate the trees to Sagami Depot came up during a town hall meeting while discussing ideas to bring the two communities closer together. Fujita said he and his staff were very excited to take part in the planting along with members of USAG Japan.
“The idea behind planting the trees was to create a long cherry blossom ‘tunnel’ that ends in front of the main gate at Depot and continues beyond the gate as symbol of unity between Sagamihara City and the installation,” Fujita said.
Fujita said he hopes the two communities have more opportunities to interact with each other and deepen their partnership through other bilateral events in order to “bring prosperity to the community we both live in.”
“One day, I hope we can have citizens of Sagamihara and members of USAG Japan enjoy a picnic together under these cherry blossom trees we planted together.”