Cherry-Trees-in-Bloom

The cherry trees are on the Hocking River, south of the Convocation Center.

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Ceremony to honor victims of Japan's earthquake, tsunami


A ceremony in memory of the victims and in support of the survivors of Japan's recent earthquake and tsunami is being planned for Wednesday, April 6, on Ohio University's Athens campus.

The ceremony will take place from 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. beside the cherry trees on the Hocking River, south of the Convocation Center. Hosted by the Office of the President in partnership with the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, the Center for International Studies and the Division of Student Affairs, the event is free and open to the public.

The ceremony is expected to include brief remarks, a candle lighting and a moment of silence in honor and memory of the victims of the recent disaster. Remarks will be delivered by Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis, OHIO faculty members who are experts in Japan and Asian studies, Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl and an Ohio University student.

The ceremony is scheduled to end promptly at 8 p.m. as the cherry blossoms are illuminated. Ongoing fundraising opportunities by OHIO's Japanese Student Association and the International Student Union will also be present.

"It's a demonstration of our support and compassion for the very difficult situation that the people of Japan are facing right now," said Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the President Rebecca Watts. 

The idea for the ceremony was sparked by similar events taking place under the cherry trees along the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. According to current weather predictions, Ohio University's cherry blossoms are expected to be at peak bloom on April 7.

Watts said the location for the ceremony was chosen to lift up and honor the longstanding friendship between Ohio University and its two partner universities in Japan, Musashi University and Chubu University. The Yoshino cherry trees were originally gifted by Chubu University on the occasion of Ohio University's 175th anniversary.

"We feel a great kinship with the people of Japan through our formal partnerships with Chubu University and Musashi University, and through the students from Japan who enroll at Ohio University, the Ohio University students who study at our partner universities and the members of our faculty and staff who are from Japan," Watts said.

Four Ohio University students were studying in Japan as the 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan on March 11, triggering a tsunami that devastated Japan's north-east coast.

All four students have since returned safely to the United States from Musashi University, Chubu University and International Christian University. Ohio University encouraged their departure from Japan due to ongoing health and safety threats, based on information from the United States and Japanese governments and discussions with the students and their parents, Watts said.

Fundraising for the relief efforts will continue at the tenth annual Sakura Festival, to be held Sunday, April 10, in the Baker University Center ballroom. Sponsored by the Japanese Student Association, the festival seeks to educate the University community about Japanese culture through traditional Japanese food, music, dancing and games.

The University has also invited children at local schools to write letters and create pictures of support for the children of Japan.