The period causes a national frenzy every year in Japan, where the media compete in forecasts on the exact timing of the full bloom of the cherry trees (
Sakura) and where onlookers indulge in the festive custom of
hanami – the admiration of their flowers.
The Somei Yoshino represent more than 90% of the ornamental cherry trees planted in Japan. Their flowering, which lasts about a week, tends to occur simultaneously on trees in a given region, since they are clones of a single specimen.
Prized for its rapid growth, this variety conquered all of Japan during the unbridled urbanization of the country between the 1950s and 1980s. But it is also more exposed than others to diseases and tends to take up a lot of space as it grows. .
The secret is to plant the right variety in the right placesays Hideaki Tanaka, an expert on ornamental cherry trees who would like more diversity in this area in Japan.
witches broom disease which forms clusters of unsightly twigs and interferes with flowering.
The Somei Yoshino also grow very tall and wide, which can pose a hazard in the event of a typhoon or other natural disaster in Japan, and their bulky roots can crack sidewalks.
Despite all these drawbacks, replacing this queen variety is not easy for municipalities, because residents are often very attached to the cherry trees in their neighborhood.
In Kunitachi, for example, in the western suburbs of Tokyo, the city took three decades to remove about 80 Somei Yoshino out of 210 expected to be replaced.
With their outstretched branches, these trees form a floral tunnel that the residents of the neighborhood want to preserve.
People had moved here to admire them explains Ryusuke Endo, a manager of the road services of Kunitachi.
In Yokohama (southwest of Tokyo), the project to cut down 300 cherry trees Somei Yoshino bordering a busy avenue has also recently caused uproar and noise in the local media.
But I would like to help communities create other spaces where people can admire all kinds of varieties of cherry trees.
In Kunitachi, where the municipality has started planting Jindai Akebonothe variety Mr. Tanaka promotes,
people are starting to realize that these trees are beautiful too wants to believe Mr. Endo.