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Crowdfunding supports conservation efforts at Tokyo’s famous cherry tree spot; Chiyoda Ward is developing several plans to help maintain trees


The Yomiuri Shimbun
Someiyoshino cherry trees at Chidori-ga-fuchi are in full bloom on Friday in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

Chidori-ga-fuchi in Chiyoda Ward, one of the most famous cherry blossom tree viewing spots in Tokyo, needs funding to preserve and protect the area after nearly 70 years since its founding. The municipal council is asking for support through crowdfunding.

In addition to the crowdfunding site, donations were also made at the Chiyoda Sakura Festival, which lasted until April 7. The municipal council hopes to pass on the natural beauty to the next generation.

Someiyoshino, a variety of cherry trees, was planted on the Chidori-ga-fuchi Green Way around 1955.


Chidorigafuchi3
Courtesy of the Chiyoda Ward Government
Kiyoshi Murase

Kiyoshi Murase, then mayor of Chiyoda Ward, opened a jetty along the inner moat of the former Edo Castle where passers-by could relax while walking along the moat.

However, the area looked gloomy and deserted, prompting the district office to plant cheerful trees.

At the time, heavy hole digging machines were not available. District office employees and gardeners planted the trees by hand over a number of years.

As the trees grew and began to bloom, many people began to see the sakura-lined Chidori-ga-fuchi Green Way.

Hiroshi Murase, Kiyoshi’s eldest son, said his father rejoiced at seeing a TV news program in which crowds visited Chidori-ga-fuchi to see the cherry blossoms. He remembers his father, who died in 1966, saying, “I’m glad we planted them.”


Chidorigafuchi2
Courtesy of the Chiyoda Ward Government
The jetty in Chidori-ga-fuchi is busy with people in 1975.

The Chidori-ga-fuchi cherry trees began showing signs of abnormality around the time they reached 50 years of age. Their shape changed due to pest damage caused by the larvae of Synanthedon hector and armillaria root rot.

The trees also suffer from the adverse effects inherent in being located in an urban district and being planted in a narrow and confined area. Their roots are sometimes trampled by an incessant stream of pedestrians.

The department created the Chiyoda Ward Sakura Rehabilitation Plan in 2004, which outlines how to rejuvenate or cut down cherry trees and replant others if reviving them is considered difficult.

In addition, the municipal government established the Sakura Supporters Program to solicit cooperation in revitalizing the trees, and the Chiyoda Sakura Fund to raise funds for long-term maintenance and management. At the same time, it has asked for donations every year during the Chiyoda Sakura Festival.

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival was canceled from 2020 to 2022, causing funds to dry up and prompting the municipal government to launch a crowdfunding campaign in 2022.

In this final year of the crowdfunding campaign, the campaign will run until May 9 on Campfire, a leading crowdfunding website in Japan.

The amount is set at ¥10 million, which is necessary for the maintenance and management of the cherry trees. Those who donate will receive a gift, such as a teacup with a cherry blossom motif or a bottle of wine.

“It is said that Someiyoshino cherry trees have a lifespan of about 60 years,” said an official from the district’s roads and parks department. “If they are managed properly, they can be passed on to the next generation. We would like to preserve this beautiful landscape.”

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