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Akron, Ohio

Cherry Trees Adorn Ohio & Erie Towpath through Downtown Akron

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Japanese Association of Northeast Ohio contributes $26,000

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of stephanie york
Published: 05-05-2015

             A total of 471 Cherry trees have been planted along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath from North Street south (through downtown) to Russel Avenue thanks to a $26,000 donation received since 2012 from the Japanese Association of Northeast Ohio (JANO), and supplemented with contributions from the City of Akron.  To date, JANO funded a total of 104 trees at the cost of $26,000.  These contributions were made to accomplish the objective of JANO Environmental Improvement Program supported by Mitsui Fund. The City of Akron augmented this effort by adding 367 Cherry trees along the towpath. 

In 2011, the City of Akron planted the first phase of the fragrant and pink-blossomed cherry trees along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath through Downtown Akron.  In 2012, 340 additional cherry trees were planted through a cooperative agreement with JANO, which donated $1,000 to help the city kick off the project and pay for the plantings.

            All this beautification stems from the Mayor’s year as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (2004-05) and his trips to Hiroshima and Tokyo.  During his tenure as President, Plusquellic was tapped by the Mayor of Hiroshima to be the International Vice President of “Mayors for Peace,” which seeks a commitment from major nations not to target cities for nuclear attack, and also promotes the Program to Promote the Solidarity of Cities towards the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons.  This Program offers cities a way to transcend national borders and work together to press for nuclear abolition.

            “What better way to show off Akron as an International City than to plant blossoming Cherry trees which, in Japan, are a symbol of peace?” questioned Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic. “After admiring the different Cherry trees throughout my trips to Hiroshima, Tokyo, and even Washington, DC, I wanted to plant these trees in and throughout Downtown, along the towpath, so that our citizens and visitors can enjoy them as they walk through our City.”

            “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 JANO, and Senior Scientist, Process Technology with The Timken Company. “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.”

            Akron city arborist Bill Hahn has made the planting of the Yoshino, Sargent and Accolade Cherry trees a personal mission to beautify the canal towpath.   

            “The beauty of the Cherry trees have made a visual impact for certain, however the Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) assessment that we performed 2013 showed that we are making an environmental impact as well,” said Hahn. 

              “As the trees mature and become even more visible, hopefully the bond between our cultures will grow as well, perhaps maturing into an event (albeit in miniature) drawing crowds like the Washington, DC’s, Cherry Blossom Festival, to celebrate natural beauty and welcome spring,” said Mayor Plusquellic.

            Unfortunately, not only do our human residents and visitors like the Cherry trees, but recently Akron’s animal friends have been busy enjoying a few of the trees too. Beavers have been helping themselves to the pleasant tasting fruity wood during their tour of the canal, and a few ground hogs have also gnawed on some of the trunks at Lock 3.  Regardless, the beavers have moved on and the groundhogs are being monitored.  Replacement trees will be planted. 

            JANO was established in 1991 as a non-profit association to promote mutual support among Japanese and foster friendship between Japanese and communities in northeast Ohio. Membership is open to anyone interested in Japanese culture. www.janosakura.org .

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For further information, contact:
stephanie york
communications director
Phone: 330-375-2345
E-mail: [email protected]

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