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Preserving the Hyakujuro Cherry Blossoms in Our Hometown Through Sake

Japanese people love cherry blossoms. Sake has always been essential to cherry blossom viewing parties, a custom that has been enjoyed for 1,300 years. Your support of the Hyakujuro sake brand will help us preserve the aging cherry blossom trees in our hometown, which were donated by famous kabuki actor Hyakujuro.

US$ 8,266 Funds Raised
102% Successful Goal: US$ 8,097
people 48 supporters
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A Project to Preserve the 1,200 Hyakujuro Cherry Trees in Gifu

An Initiative of Hayashi Honten, the Brewery Producing the Hyakujuro Sake Brand

Japanese people have always enjoyed viewing the cherry blossoms while enjoying sake. Although hanami is an annual event observed for over 1,300 years, the cherry trees are gradually aging. Maintaining these trees and creating new locations to view them are necessary actions. 

Please help us preserve this revered event for the local community of Kakamigahara in Gifu, which boasts a famous cherry viewing spot known as the Hyakujuro Cherry Trees. These cherry trees are aging and a large scale effort is needed in order to ensure that the next generation will be able to enjoy them. 

 

The Cherry Blossom Crisis

Somei Yoshino is a popular variety of cherry blossoms, comprising 80% of the cherry trees in Japan. While its life span is said to be 60 years, most of the trees were planted 75 years ago after the end of WWII. They are withering all over the country, with some even falling down.

The Somei Yoshino cultivar is a clone from a single tree. Since they have been propagated by grafting, most bloom and wither simultaneously. The fact that their life cycles are almost identical is not known to many people.

Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) is a traditional event that heralds the spring season, making everyone happy for the arrival of seasonal blooms. 

We hope to pass this hanami tradition to the next generation using this project as our starting line.

The Roots of Cheery Blossom Viewing Parties

Why are hanami, the cherry blossom viewing parties, popular in Japan?

There is a special bond between cherry blossoms and Japanese culture. In ancient mythology, Ninigi-no-Mikoto, the grandchild of Amaterasu-Omikami, proposed marriage to the beautiful Konohanasakuya-hime, the deity of cherry blossoms. It is even said that the word "sakura" comes from "sakuya."

Another theory states that the word is a composite of "sa" (guardian of rice fields) and "kura" (throne of deities). Farmers believed that the guardian deity of crops dwelled within the cherry blossoms and watched over the paddies until the harvest season. 

Many Japanese are fond of the ephemeral quality of cherry blossoms, which bloom and fall in a short period of time. These flowers were also associated with bushi (samurai), serving as a reminder for them to live gracefully.

With this reverence in their mind, the Japanese have enjoyed cherry blossoms viewing parties for over 1,300 years.

About Hayashi Honten

My name is Rieko Hayashi and I am the fifth-generation owner of Hayashi Honten, located in Kakamigahara, Gifu Prefecture.

Our brewery has been brewing sake for one hundred years. Our specialty is natural-tasting sake that utilizes rice, water, and yeast cultivated in Gifu, using only the power of microorganisms. We simultaneously create happiness, wonder, and smiles for those who enjoy our alcoholic beverages. Our mission is to produce delicious sake while offering positive stimuli and insipration to people's lives.

Our Hyakujuro sake series is a tribute to kabuki actor Hyakujuro Ichikawa, who hails from Kakamigahara. This sake is envisioned to be enjoyed while admiring the cherry blossoms. 

We ship our Hyakujuro products overseas, hoping this sake would be embraced as a symbol of Japanese culture.

We learned that the Hyakujuro cherry blossom trees donated by Mr. Ichikawa are endangered by old age. One of our goals for the Hyakujuro sake series is to support the withering trees.

The Hyakujuro Cherry Trees Are in a Difficult Situation

Hyakujuro Ichikawa donated 1,200 cherry trees 90 years ago to the Sakai River District in Kakamigahara City, his hometown. The Sakai River is a tributary of the Nagara River, one of the three major streams in Japan. 

The Somei Yoshino cherry trees donated by Hyakujuro stand along both sides of the Sakai River, spanning 4 kilometers in length. They are known as the Hyakujuro Sakura, or Hyakujuro Cherry Trees. Every spring, the area turns into a beautiful and bustling destination for everyone who wishes to enjoy the beauty of the blossoms.

There is a massive ring of cherry trees in Kakamigahara, with the Hyakujuro cherry trees being part of that loop. The Sakura Corridor, measuring 31 kilometers in length, brought fame to our city due to its stunning views.

However, the number of Hyakujuro cherry trees has decreased from 1,200 to 1,000. Moreover, most of the existing trees have started to wither from old age.

Although we have local volunteers working as cherry tree preservers, these citizens are themselves aging. With no successors in sight, the maintenance of the Hyakujuro cherry trees is in jeopardy.

In recent years, various volunteer events have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, this dilemma has become very common in Japan.

Moreover, the current law prohibits planting trees on embankments.

The cherry trees are aging rapidly, which is a similar problem across Japan. Hanami events as we knew them may come to an end. The public should be notified of the current situation, and there should be plans to plant new cherry trees.

The ongoing situation will lead to the end of hanami, a cultural event cherished by so many Japanese people over the centuries.

The local government alone cannot preserve the aging cherry trees and pass this tradition to further generations. Therefore, groups will have to be recruited for these efforts. With more people watching over the trees, a new network forged between citizens might appear in the area.

Promoting cherry blossom preservation volunteer activities, such as cleaning up the Sakura Corridor, preserving the old trees, and planting new ones, will help create a cultural asset for the future. It will also maintain a stunning sight that everyone cherishes.

The culture of hanami (cherry blossom viewing parties) boasts a history of 1,300 years and has been loved worldwide.

But the cherry trees producing the precious blossoms are sadly aging. Something must be done to preserve the event that heralds the arrival of spring and soothes everyone with its seasonal beauty.

With assistance from our supporters worldwide, we hope to help preserve the cherry trees in our hometown.

This project aims to maintain and expand the Sakura Corridor. The knowledge gained in this process will be used to preserve Japan’s hanami culture as a whole.

The funding will be used to maintain the Hyakujuro Cherry Trees and the Sakura Corridor.

Please support us in ensuring that the culture of cherry blossom viewing will be preserved in Japan for the generations to come. 

Examples of Fund Usage:

・ Maintenance of the Hyakujuro Cherry Trees and the Sakura Corridor

・ Creating a map of the area

・ Supporting Hyakujuro Sakura events

・ Cooperating with cherry tree volunteers in preservation efforts

・ Publicity work
 

 

Hyakujuro Emotion Survey

The winners of the Hyakujuro Emotion survey created in collaboration with MATCHA are listed below. The winners will be notified and receive their prizes shortly.

Survey Information: https://matcha-jp.com/jp/11083

Survey winners:

▼A set of Emotion Sake

  • Julia Tung

 

▼Sake cups

  • Jazz Omari
  • Louis Goldberg
  • Kumar Amritanshu
  • Pavan Kumar
  • Eliska
  • Mica
  • 卓淑珍
  • 林家妤
  • Bonniekev

 

▼Sake Sampling Kits

  • Travis William
  • Tanya
  • June Lim
  • Rex
  • Carmen Chong
  • Chiara
  • Lucy Dayman
  • Damon
  • すきーやろう
  • ひろりん
  • もと
  • なかむらとらきち
  • 岡 晴日
  • あやのん
  • 豆ごはん
  • lichiu
  • 徐君華
  • 鄧名惠
  • 陳振維
  • CC
  • HANA
  • 李品彥
  • 陳昱杉
  • Leo
  • 廖純英
  • 家葳
  • Youap
  • 湘湘
  • ヒカリ
  • Tresia

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