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Ohio University's Japanese Student Association hosts Third Annual Sakura Festival

ATHENS, Ohio (April 5, 2007) -- In Japan, spring means the start of a new year for schools and businesses, marked by the blooming of the "sakura" or cherry tree blossom. The popular and widely celebrated flowering tree has a remarkably fast blooming season making its short-lived beauty highly regarded in Japanese culture and celebrated with performances and other festivities. 

Celebrating the sakura

What: The Third Annual Sakura Festival

Where: Walter Hall rotunda

When: Saturday, April 7, at noon

Admission: FREE!
Purchase a ticket for a lunchbox for $6 from the International Student and Faculty Services Office in Baker University Center room 343 through Friday, April 6.

With the help of the Japanese Student Association, the Ohio University community will join in the celebration of the cherry blossoms through the third annual open-admission Sakura Festival. The festival will be held from noon until 3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 7. Due to the unusually cold weather,  the festival's location has been moved from Tail Great Park to Walter Hall. 

Events will include a Japanese drum performance and Kendo demonstrations, as well as opportunities to learn about aspects of Japanese culture from members of the student organization J-Con (Japanese Connection). Participants are also invited to bring a pre-purchased Japanese lunchbox to enjoy during the events. 

Ohio University's first Shafer Street cherry trees were donated in recognition of the university's 175th anniversary by Chubu University, Ohio's sister institution in Kasugai City in Japan. Additional trees were added during the celebration of the university's bicentennial, bringing the number of trees to 200.

Blossoming cherry trees on Shafer Street photo by Kim Walker.This year's sakura celebration at Ohio University began April 2 with a first-time lighting of the 200 trees in Tail Great Park. The trees were lit from 8 p.m. to midnight every night until April 8. This year's unusually cold weather forced the group to abandon plans to light the trees through April 12. They hope to light even more trees next year.

Hiro Oshita, adviser to the Japanese Student Association, said that the lighting of the blossoming cherry trees is a "beautiful way to celebrate the season." He said many students from all cultures have come in the past to see the blossoms and learn about their importance in Japanese culture.

"The essence of the beauty of the sakura tree is that it does not last long; the blossoms come so suddenly," Oshita said. 

Oshita explained that this is the first year that the Japanese Student Association has lit the cherry trees, with help from the university's College of Arts and Sciences and Facilities Management department.

Even without a backdrop of the bright pink blossoms and  cooperative weather, this year's Sakura Festival will be another successful merge of Japanese culture into the Ohio University community.

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Written by: Anna Marie Finley 

Media Contact: Linquistics Graduate Chair and Japanese Student Association Faculty Adviser Hiroyuki Oshita, 740-593-4564 or oshita@ohio.edu

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