Forty new Yoshino cherry trees will be planted along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in downtown Akron this year.
The tree plantings are made possible by a recent $10,000 donation from the Japanese Association of Northeast Ohio.
The group has also pledged $7,500 in 2014 and $7,500 in 2015 so that the city can plant an additional 60 cherry trees.
The contributions are being made to accomplish the association’s Environmental Improvement Program which is supported by the Mitsui Fund.
Akron’s interest in cherry trees goes back to 2004-2005 when Mayor Don Plusquellic served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and made trips to Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
During his tenure, Plusquellic was tapped by the mayor of Hiroshima to be the international vice president of Mayors for Peace that seeks a commitment from major nations not to target cities for nuclear attack.
That trip to Japan led Plusquellic to want to plant cherry trees in Akron.
“What better way to show off Akron as an international city than to plant cherry trees which, in Japan, are a symbol of peace,” Plusquellic said.
In 2011, Akron planted the first of the pink-blossomed cherry trees along the canal in downtown Akron.
In 2012, 340 additional cherry trees were planted with the Japanese association’s support.
“The Japanese community in Akron and Northeast Ohio believes this is a way to communicate one traditional aspect of our country’s culture,” said Dr. Fukuo Hashimoto, president of the association and a senior scientist in process technology at the Timken Co.
“When people see this beautiful display each spring, we hope they will think of the many ways that Japanese-Americans contribute to the success of our country,” he said in a statement.
The planting of the Yoshino, Sargent and Accolade cherry trees has been directed by Akron city arborist Bill Hahn.
The trees are located along the canal between West North Street north of downtown and West Thornton Street south of downtown.