New Variety of Cherry Tree Developed in Miyagi Town Planted; Hoping for Another 100 Years of Cherry Blossom Festivals

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Masayuki Ogata, front, second from left, discusses Ogawara Senbon Zakura cherry trees in Ogawara, Miyagi Prefecture, on March 23.

OGAWARA, Miyagi — A new variety of cherry tree developed in Ogawara, Miyagi Prefecture, was recently planted among famous rows of cherry trees that stretch for 8 kilometers along the banks of the Shiroishi River.

Arborist Masayuki Ogata, 67, along with students at the prefecture’s Shibata Norin High School, developed the new tree type, called Ogawara Sennen Zakura. Seven saplings were planted among the rows of cherry trees, which are known as the Hitome Senbon Zakura and celebrated their 100th anniversary last year. The saplings represent an effort to have the trees flourish another 100 years. “Sennen” means 1,000 years and “Senbon” is 1,000 trees. “Zakura” is an alternate reading of sakura.

The name Ogawara Sennen Zakura was selected from among 451 entries submitted across Japan.

The cherry trees can grow to about 4 meters tall, and the pink of the petals is said to be lighter than that of the Someiyoshino sakura cherry tree.

About 30 people, including students from the high school and Ogawara residents, attended the tree-planting ceremony on March 23. They planted the saplings near the parking lot of the Ogawara Senbon Zakura Sports Park, set up poles to support the saplings and sprinkled water on them.

The trees are expected to flower in about five years.