News Releases

April 8, 2010
For Immediate Release
For additional information: 
Barbara Kerr, APR
Executive Director of
Communications and Marketing
Telephone: 360-992-2921


Two Historic Gifts.
One Memorable Event.

On Thursday, April 22, Clark College will celebrate international friendship by hosting the fifth annual 
Sakura Festival – celebrating one historic gift and looking forward to another 

Cherry blossom branches

On Earth Day 1990, John Kageyama, President of America Kotobuki, presented a gift of 100 Shirofugen cherry trees to the City of Vancouver to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Washington’s statehood. The trees were planted on Clark College’s main campus in Vancouver’s Central Park.  

Twenty years later, the college will honor that gift – and embrace a new one -- as it hosts the fifth annual Sakura Festival on Thursday, April 22 from 1 to 4 p.m. 

Sponsored by the Clark College, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Rotary, the festival is free and open to the public. The celebration will be held under the historic cherry trees near the Clark College music building and the O’Connell Sports Center. 

Modeled after the Japanese tradition of picnicking and celebrating the arrival of spring beneath the blossoming cherry trees, the Sakura Festival recognizes the international friendship between the City of Vancouver and its sister city, Joyo, Japan.  Established in 1995, the sister-city relationship between Vancouver and Joyo is marking its 15th anniversary.

Clark College is located at 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver. Driving directions and parking maps are available at

At 1 p.m., the opening ceremony will feature groundbreaking for another international gift of friendship -- a Japanese garden. The garden is a gift from Chihiro Kanagawa, President & CEO of Shin-Etsu Chemical Company, the parent company of SEH America, to the City of Vancouver. The garden will be located next to the Clark College music building. Based on discussions with the City of Vancouver, construction of the garden will likely begin in the summer of 2011. The dedication of the garden will likely take place in September 2011.  

Dignitaries scheduled to attend include Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt; former Vancouver Mayors Bruce Hagensen and Royce Pollard; representatives of Joyo City; Takamichi Okabe, Consul General of Japan (Portland); and Tatsuo Ito, Executive Vice President, SEH America Inc. 

The groundbreaking will be followed by remarks from guest speakers and a performance by the Clark College Women’s Choral Ensemble. 

After the ceremony, the festival will continue with Japanese displays, demonstrations and entertainment in the Gaiser Student Center throughout the afternoon. 

Tree planting dedication on Arbor Day 1990

Left to right: Vancouver Mayor Bruce Hagensen, Washington Governor Booth Gardner, and John Kageyama, President of America Kotobuki, dedicate the first of 100 cherry trees in celebration of Arbor Day and Earth Day 1990. [Photo courtesy John Kageyama.] 

Then Mayor Bruce Hagensen, joined by John Kageyama and Washington Governor Booth Gardner, took part in the planting and dedication of the trees on April 11, 1990 during a celebration of Earth Day and Arbor Day. More than 300 residents of the community – as well as representatives of business and industry – joined members of the college community as teams of five (or more) spread mulch around each tree to complete the planting, which had been done earlier by staff members of Plant Services (now Facilities Services.)

Clark College President Robert K. Knight said, “The Sakura Festival has become a great tradition for Clark College and the City of Vancouver.  It’s especially meaningful this year as we recognize the 20th anniversary of the generous gift of the symbolic cherry trees and break ground for a Japanese garden -- a beautiful new gift for our region.” 

Knight added, “We’re proud to host this event in partnership with our friends at the Vancouver Rotary and the City of Vancouver as we celebrate spring and pay tribute to our sister-city relationship with Joyo, Japan.” 

Information about the Sakura Festival is available at For more information, contact the Clark College Office of International Programs at 360-992-2390.

Guests who need accommodations due to a disability in order to fully participate are asked to contact Clark College’s Disability Support Services Office at (360) 992-2314 or VP, or visit Gaiser Hall room 137, by April 16, 2010.


EDITORS’ NOTE:  In the event of inclement weather, the Sakura Festival will be held in Clark’s Gaiser Student Center.  The groundbreaking ceremony will be held – rain or shine – on the site of the Japanese Garden, near the Clark College music building.