LIMA — They may just appear to be trees along the Ottawa River, but a Saturday event gives people a chance to ponder deeper truths about life through a Japanese custom.
People are invited to Lima’s Japanese garden, located at the corner of South Elizabeth and West Eureka streets, from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday to watch the Japanese weeping cherry trees in bloom.
“They are metaphors for the beauty of life, and also the brevity of life,” said Sandra Leichty, co-chair of the Lima Sister Cities Association’s Japan committee. “The Japanese people go to view the beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring, and it’s kind of an ‘eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow we all die’ kind of a feeling.”
People are invited to bring along a lunch and beverages, as well as comfortable seating to mark the Japanese tradition.
“These are very beautiful weeping cherry trees that we’re pruning now,” said Keiko Hahn, a co-chair on the Japan committee. “They might not last a long time, but when it blooms it’s quite beautiful. The Japanese people do go out and celebrate life. We decided to have a little outing.”
The trees, planted in 1997, were a gift from Lima’s Sister City of Harima-Cho, Japan. In exchange, there are redbud trees planted in the Japanese city to remind them of their friendship with Lima.
“We selected Japan because the country is a safe and secure place,” said Hahn, who grew up in Japan before coming to Lima in the 1950s. “Harima-Cho has about the same population. They provide a comparable population and economy and industry as Lima. They are educationally minded.”
The cities maintained a relationship since then. Before the pandemic, a team of middle school students from Lima visited Harima-Cho every other year, with a group from Japan coming to Allen County in the alternating years. That’s been put on hold with COVID-19.
That’s when members of the Japan committee decided to create an event to share the beauty of the trees.
“The cherry blossom is beautiful and delicate. For a short time, it gives us this wonderful beauty,” Leichty said. “The Japanese people meet underneath the branches, have picnics. They sing, they dance and they celebrate, because the blossoms last a very short time, like our human lives, and then they come down.”