Cherry trees planted as homage to Slovenian-Japanese relations

Grosuplje – A line of Japanese cherry trees was planted in Grosuplje on Thursday in memory of the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo and to mark the upcoming 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Japan and Slovenia.

The Japanese Embassy in Slovenia said that the tree alley was a contribution to green spaces in urban areas that would enable Slovenians to admire cherry trees in blossom every spring.

The tree alley bears the significance of the good cooperation and friendship between Japan and Slovenia and the EU, and the trees will symbolise friendship and mutual respect of the nations of the world and global peace, the embassy added.

The trees were planted by Grosuplje Mayor Peter Verlič, Japanese Ambassador Hiromichi Matsushima, Toyota Adria boss Kensuke Tsuchiya and legendary Slovenian Olympian Miroslav Cerar, with Slovenian Olympic Committee president Bogdan Gabrovec attending.

Cerar, who is the honorary president of the Slovenian-Japanese Business Club, said he was happy with the idea, adding that “these Japanese and Slovenian cherry trees will only deepen our cooperation further,” and pointing to bonds in culture, sport and economy.

Tsuchiya said that Grosuplje had been picked because “this is where Miroslav Cerar, who is called the god of gymnastics in Japan, is from. The other reason is that we share the vision and values in environmental care with the municipality.”

The tree alley was planted precisely on Cerar’s birthday. “Here is the man who is credited for the municipality of Grosuplje being called an Olympic municipality,” said Mayor Verlič, labelling the Olympic gold medallist as a role model for the young.

The trees were planted as part of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project by the Japanese Embassy in Slovenia, which looks to plant the sakura cherry trees in several Slovenian municipalities by March 2023 as a symbol of the growing bilateral relations.

Ambassador Matsushima noted that the years 2021 and 2022 were special years for both countries because of the Summer Olympics, at which Slovenian athletes had been very successful, and because of the upcoming 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year.

“And when the cherry trees grow up and blossom, they will not only be beautiful to look at, but will also remind people of the Tokyo Olympics and the friendship between Japan and Slovenia,” he added.

Japan also donated to Slovenia 300 seedlings of the Japanese cherry tree back in 1999 as a symbolic move to establish economic relations, with the first tree being planted by Princess Sayako in October 2000 under the Rožnik Hill in Ljubljana.