Our exhibition in the Sasabe Sakura Reference Room titled “A Life Dedicated to Sakura” is being held until November 20, 2022. This exhibition features the cherry blossom tree planting projects in which Sasabe Shintaro was involved, along with various documents and records. We hope you will be able to visit the museum to see this exhibition!
This is the first article in what will be a three-part series titled ‘Sasabe and Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots’. Coinciding with the exhibition, we will introduce the famous cherry blossom viewing spots that were connected to Sasabe.
This first article is about one of the most well-known viewing spot in the Kansai region: the pathways lined with cherry blossom trees at Japan Mint in Osaka. The history of the annual viewing in Japan Mint began in the spring of 1883, when Japan Mint opened the site for the public to enjoy the cherry blossoms. In the Meiji era (1868-1912), however, when heavy industrial development began in Osaka, the increase of soot and smoke caused some cherry blossom trees to wither. This was when Sasabe was requested by Japan Mint to plant and care for the cherry blossom trees there.
Because Sasabe was born and raised in Osaka, he accepted the request to help his hometown. Soon after the project began, he was concerned about replanting his beloved trees on the premises of Japan Mint. In his handwritten records called “Records of Ekiraku Sansou” he stated, “As I dig up my cherry blossom trees at the orchard of my experimental forest, I began to feel dismay that those trees would be replanted at the smoky site. It felt as if I was abandoning the trees.” He struggled with the replanting of the trees which he had nurtured in his experimental forest “Ekiraku Sansou” (in present-day Takedao, Takarazuka).
Thanks to Sasabe’s efforts, the site had restored and loved again by the Osaka people. Then, WWⅡ began and the Osaka Air Raid of 1945 burnt more than the half of the trees at Japan Mint. After the war, Sasabe was requested again to restore the site. The “Records of Ekiraku Sansou” states that Sasabe’s Sasabe replanted over 100 cherry blossom trees from his land in 1946, clearly demonstrating his passion for this work of restoration.
The annual opening to enjoy the pathways lined with Cherry Blossom Trees at Japan Mint had its 100th anniversary in 1983. Although Sasabe had passed away by then, he was commended for contributing to the preservation and development of the site which allowed people to enjoy the cherry blossoms every spring.
To this day, the many varieties of cherry blossoms at Japan Mint have continued to be enjoyed every spring. Sasabe’s effort to protect and nurture the indigenous cherry blossom trees at this site must have been passed down to this day. If you have a chance to visit Japan Mint during its opening in spring, we hope you will take a moment to remember what Sasabe did there before and after the war.
Please check back the second article of this series next month!