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Will cherry trees bloom for 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games?

  • JAPAN NEWS-YOMIURI

    Blossoms erupt on a tokaizakura cherry at the Enoshima Aquarium in Fujisawa, Japan.

FUJISAWA, Japan >> Efforts are under way to develop a cherry tree that can bloom in the height of summer, and do it in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

A regional council — put together by the Kanagawa prefectural government and others — promoting flowers and greenery successfully engineered an early bloom tokaizakura cherry tree that blossomed last month.

The tree was grown by Toru Nagoya, 56, who grows flowers in Kawasaki and writes about ikebana flower arrangement.

If the effort succeeds, the iconic Japanese blossoms could decorate event venues and be presented in medal ceremonies during the Olympic Games.

The experiment was performed at the Enoshima Aquarium in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture. Pale pink flowers bloomed from a tokaizakura cherry flower arrangement in a room maintained at 82 degrees.

A cherry tree blossomed over about a week as leaves gradually budded on its branches.

Nagoya said he started his research in 2013, when Tokyo won the bid to host the Olympics.

The tokaizakura cherry tree is an early blooming variety, the bud maturing in early March. Nagoya kept the tree in an environment below 39 degrees in winter. When he took the tree out of the controlled environment in early summer, it bloomed.

But Nagoya was not satisfied with the shape of the blossoms. Thinking he had stressed the buds, he created a specialized facility in which he could carefully control the humidity as well as temperature.

The tokaizakura cherry tree bloom he produced in this facility thrilled Nagoya. “The flowers blossomed naturally and beautifully, like they were waking up from a sleep,” he said.

Temperatures around 95 degrees are expected during the 2020 Games. Nagoya said he plans to continue his efforts to engineer a tree that can bloom in even harsher environments.

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