The hopes of a generation and the futures of others are encapulated in the seeds of a 1,000-year-old cherry tree now deposited in the vaults of Ardingly’s Millennium Seed Bank.
The ancient Miharu Takizakura cherry tree from Fukushima in northern Japan survived the 2011 tsumani and earthquake as well as the Fukushima nuclear power plant explosion just 30 miles away.
Now, in grateful thanks for the help British people gave the Japanese nation after the disasters, a delegation of school children, their teachers and Japanese officials has delivered a consignment of the tree’s seeds to Kew’s world-renowned Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place.
The seeds will be kept in the sub-zero vaults at Ardingly to ensure their survival in a world constantly seeing animal and plant species disappear as human development encroaches on their habitats.
Dr Paul Smith, head of the Seed Bank, told the Mid Sussex Times the delivery of the seeds was a great honour for Kew and Ardingly.
He said: “The cherry tree is a charismatic and culturally very important tree in Japan and this one is the oldest and most venerated, and so it is a great honour that they have chosen to deposit the seeds here in Sussex and at the Millennium Seed Bank.”
The Miharu Takizakura cherry tree is 1,000 years old and stands 13.5 metres tall. It is a Japanese national monument that previously attracted 250,000 visitors a year.
It was adopted as a national symbol of hope when it burst into prolific bloom less than six weeks after the 2011 earthquake when more than 60,000 people flocked to see it despite its proximity to the devastated Fukishima power station.
The seeds were collected by Fukushima Prefecture school children, among them Kaito Tauchi and Mizuki Murakami, both 12, who read a dedication in Japanese and in English, before handing them to Dr Smith. Both struggled to contain their composure as they read the thanks of their nation.
Also pictured with Kaito and Mizuki is teacher Masayoshi Sato from Nakasato Primary School, Miharu town. Others present included the chairman of the education board for the prefecture; representatives of the Tokyo Metropolitan Parks Association and Organization of Landscape and Urban Green Infrastructure, and Katsuhiko Kita, First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy in London.