Cherry Blossom Project Taking Root at Bethany College 

BETHANY, W.Va. — The Bethany College campus will be receiving some early birthday presents from the Bethany College Japan Outreach on Sunday, Oct. 5. The group will kick off its Sakura 170 Project by planting several Japanese cherry trees in a 2 p.m. groundbreaking ceremony. “Sakura” is a Japanese word that translates as “Cherry Blossom.”

Internationally renowned Taiko drummer Takumi Kato will perform at the ceremony, which is open to the public. Kato recently returned to the United States after winning first place and receiving the highest honor at the seventh Tokyo International Taiko Contest. Immediately following the ceremony, Japanese cuisine and tea will be served by the Master Chef from the Chaya Restaurant in Pittsburgh along with tea master Yoko Motoyama.

The Sakura 170 Project was inspired by the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. and will feature a mix of the Yoshino (white) and Kwanzan (pink) varieties of cherry trees that frame the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park in the nation’s capital. The Japan Outreach plans to celebrate the flowering of the cherry trees on campus with an annual spring festival showcasing the best in Japanese art, cuisine, dance, fashion and music.

Bethany College instructors Sachiko Wood and Fujiko Sawtarie head the Bethany College Japan Outreach, which has been actively promoting Japanese cultural awareness on campus and in neighboring communities since 1988. Wood and Sawtarie are coordinating the Sakura 170 Project, which has a goal of planting 170 cherry trees on the College campus in time to commemorate Bethany’s 170th anniversary during the 2010-11 academic year.

Initial donors for the project include the Bethany College Japan Outreach, Wood Tax Business, Wheeling Kumon Learning Center, Mrs. Hideko Oguri, Dr. Takashi Oguri, Wheeling Park Japanese Club, Sinclair Legal Consulting and Precision Tree Service. Donations for future plantings are now being accepted. For information, call Bethany College Vice President for Institutional Advancement Sven de Jong at (304) 829-7281 or send an e-mail to

Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the oldest college in West Virginia.