2012 marks the centennial celebration of the gifting of cherry blossoms trees from Japan to the people of the United States. In light of this 100th anniversary, Mr. Kunio Minami, who has worked for many years to assist in the care of the Hermann Park Japanese Garden and who sits on the board of the Hermann Park Conservancy, was awarded the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation. Every year at the Japan Festival the Hermann Park Japanese Garden is used as a place for festival attendees to take a moment and relax. The collaboration of the Japanese and American communities in Houston to care for the garden continues, and Houston’s sister city, Chiba City, has also been involved in garden efforts. 20 years after the opening, the Japanese Garden remains a strong symbol of the friendship between Japan and Houston.
On June 19th, the recipient of the Foreign Minister’s Commendation, Mr. Minami, was further recognized at the Houston City Council Meeting. The Honorable Annise Parker, mayor of Houston, declared the day “Hermann Park Japanese Garden Day,” to recognize Mr. Minami and all those who have contributed to the garden. Many who have been involved with the garden were present to help celebrate and congratulate Mr. Minami. Attendees included: Mr. Shingo Ueno, president of Sumitomo Corporation of America; Mr. Junjiro Naoki, chairman of Japan-America Society of Houston; Mr. Joe Hafner, board member of Japan-America Society of Houston, Mr. Glen Gondo, former president of Japan-America Society of Houston; and Mrs. Yuko Leibrock, executive director of Japan Business Association of Houston were present to help celebrate and congratulate Mr. Minami.
In his remarks, Consul-General Yamamoto congratulated Mr. Minami as representative of all who contributed to the garden. In celebration of Mr. Minami’s recognition, the 40th anniversary of the sister city relationship with Chiba City, and the continued deepening friendship between Japan and Houston, Consul-General Yamamoto announced the scheduled planting of 20 cherry blossom saplings in October in the Hermann Park Japanese Garden in commemoration of the Japan-U.S. Cherry Blossom Centennial.
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