Mayor Karl Dean and Hiroshi Sato, the Consul-General of Japan in Nashville, presided over the inaugural Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival Saturday afternoon on the Public Square at the Metro Courthouse.
Presented by the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival Committee, in conjunction with the Japan-America Society of Tennessee, the festival, or sakura matsuri, celebrated the close bond between Americans and Japanese in Nashville and Tennessee.
The committee has set a goal to plant 1,000 cherry trees in the city, 100 each year over the next 10 years and bring a taste of Japanese culture to Nashville each spring. The committee raised private funds to purchase the cherry trees that will be planted this year in the Public Square, Centennial Park, and Forest Hills.
The Taiko Drummers, a traditional Japanese drum troupe, kicked off the event.
Following remarks by Committee Chairman Ed Nelson, Mayor Dean, and Consul-General Sato, a ceremonial tree-planting took place on the Public Square. The Taiko Drummers will give a lengthier performance on the Courthouse steps.
Committee members are Nelson, Susan Whitaker, Ralph Schulz, Butch Spyridon, Yuichi Mabuchi, and Robert Arnett.