A Gift from Japanese to Kaunas – Sakura park

This year, the very few blooming Japanese cherry trees on the Nemunas island will be enriched with fifty bigger trees of same kind. They are donated to the city by the Japan Cherry Blossoms Association, symbolizing the friendship between their country and the city of Kaunas. Citizens of Kaunas are also invited to become a part of this initiative.

For many years Kaunas and Japan has a very close and important connection, which was strengthened in 1939-1940, when Chiune Sugihara, who officially served as a Consul of Japan residing in Kaunas city, issued for thousands of Jews “Visas for Life”. Wishing to foster and celebrate this friendship, the Japan Cherry Blossoms Association decided to donate Sakura park to Kaunas city.

“This will be the park symbolizing a friendship, which will remind to the society the connection between our city with the country of „The Rising Sun“. The Nemunas Island becomes an important part of the central axis of the city and the richly blossoming Japanese cherries do not leave anyone indifferent. Such a combination will highly enrich the walking path that many of Kaunas people enjoy” – said Simonas Kairys, Deputy Mayor of Kaunas City.

Various other organizations in Lithuania and Japan are also invited to join the initiative. The concept of the project is to bring together the communities of Kaunas and Japan, enriching the city with a spectacular park, which will invite people to come together and enjoy the blossoming of Sakuras every year.

The Sugihara Week will be held in Kaunas for the second time on September 3-8th, 2018. Last year, these series of events attracted a lot of attention of Kaunas citizens as well as many foreign guests. Precisely, September 8th will be the day when park will be planted on the coast of the Nemunas Island between two pedestrian bridges.

It is planned to plant around 50 trees of 3-4 meters height. 30 of them are donated by Japan Cherry Blossoms Association, and another 10 pieces are a gift from various cities and organisations in Japan. Organizations in Kaunas are also invited hereby to join the implementation of this project. It is estimated that the price of one tree, including purchasing, delivering, planting and maintaining it for 2 years, can cost over 400 euros. The project will be implemented by Ingrida Vainauskienė, landscape projects manager and a member of Sugihara Group for Kaunas – Japan Relations Development.

It is planned to install information stands at the park, which will include all of the project partners. Organizations wishing to join to the implementation of this initiative are invited to contact this e-mail: [email protected] by 4th April, 2018.

The concept of the Sugihara Week in Kaunas, which is becoming our new tradition, is also mainly a gift to the city from the community. The authors of this initiative voluntarily dedicated a lot of time and efforts to make the idea a real phenomenon. It was created and implemented by Aurelijus Zykas, Head of VMU Asian Studies Center, Asta Kavaliauskaitė, Chief Executive Officer of UAB „Kimono“, Sima Giržadaitė-Bilė, Director of the „Hof Hotel“, the team of Kyumeikan  Kendo School – Raimonda Strazdienė and Ričardas Žilaitis, landscape projects manager Ingrida Vainauskienė and many other partners, who also gathered last year to the Sugihara Group for Kaunas-Japan Relations Development, leaded by Deputy Mayor of Kaunas City Simonas Kairys.