Cherry Tree Project Launched at Bethany College

2263TreeWEB.jpgBETHANY, W.Va. — The Bethany College Japan Outreach kicked off its Sakura 170 Project with a public groundbreaking ceremony adjacent to the Bethany Bridge on Sunday, Oct. 5. Dr. Scott D. Miller, President of the College, was on hand to help plant the first Japanese cherry tree on the Bethany campus. Vice Presidents Sven de Jong and William Kiefer, master gardener Rob Brown and Bethany instructors Sachiko Wood and Fujiko Sawtarie, leaders of the Japan Outreach, joined President Miller at the event.

The Sakura 170 Project has set 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. The Japan Outreach plans to celebrate the flowering of the cherry trees on campus each spring with a Cherry Blossom Festival showcasing the best in Japanese cuisine, art, dance, fashion and music. “Sakura” is a Japanese word which translates as “Cherry Blossom.”

Internationally renowned Taiko drummer Takumi Kato performed at Sunday’s groundbreaking ceremony. Those attending the event were served Japanese cuisine and tea by the Master Chef from the Chaya Restaurant in Pittsburgh along with tea master Yoko Motoyama.

Wood and Sawtarie are coordinating the Sakura 170 Project, which was inspired by the Cherry Blossom Festival held each spring in Washington, D.C. The Bethany instructors have been actively promoting Japanese cultural awareness on campus and in neighboring communities through the Bethany College Japan Outreach for the past two decades.

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, Dr. and Mrs. Hsinn-Hong, Janet Wang, Sinclair Legal Consulting and Precision Tree Service. Donations for future plantings are now being accepted. For information, call Sawtarie at (304) 829-7767 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.