Sakura Hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, is an ancient annual tradition in Japan, and it’s catching on in Nelson too.
The event gives family and friends an opportunity to get together and celebrate the arrival of spring, simply by appreciating the beauty of cherry blossoms.
On May 7, the Nelson Izu-shi Friendship Society held a blossom viewing gathering at its Friendship Garden at Cottonwood Falls Park.
Participants of all ages enjoyed Japanese tea and treats, and took part in workshops in calligraphy, kite-making, haiku, and origami.
The Friendship Garden’s founder and its original gardener, Jim Sawada, mingled and chatted.
“I’m not the head gardener any more,” he said, laughing. “Bernie Zimmer is my boss now.”
Zimmer has been volunteering at the garden for many years and is the planner and organizer of a new part of the garden being created on the west side of Cottonwood Creek near the Rod and Gun Club.
The Friendship Garden originated, as an idea, in 1987 when Nelson formed its sister-city relationship with Izu-shi, Japan. Development of the garden started in 2002.
Both cities built gardens to celebrate the relationship. Izu-shi’s garden contains a replica of Nelson’s orange bridge. The large stone lantern in the Nelson’s Friendship Garden was donated by Izu-shi.