Consulate-General of Japan in Houston


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Consul General's News Letter From Houston

Remarks by Consul-General Jota Yamamoto
at the Cherry Blossom Centennial Reception
on October 19, 2012

October 19, 2012

Honorable Congressman, Honorable Members of City Council, Honorable Consul-Generals, Honored Colleagues and Distinguished Guests,
Thank you for joining us, some of you have devoted your entire day to cherry blossoms and to be with us, thank you very much. 

To commemorate the cherry blossom centennial, my country has gifted cherry trees to 36 cities across the States.  In almost all cities, the planting was held in the spring, which was not possible in Houston and Fort Worth, due to the heat.  Now in October, we see the Astros finishing their season, which is a bit disappointing, but with the retreating of heat it is possible for us to hold the planting of saplings today.

The implication of the cherry blossom centennial is obvious.  Over the past 100 years, Japan and America have witnessed many things.  However, or as a result of all that has occurred, it is now quite clear that the Japan-US friendship has bloomed into a steadfast alliance, as cherry blossoms have bloomed so faithfully every year.  Did you know that some cherry blossom trees can live over one thousand years?  This is the implication we have appreciated.

Like anybody else, I love the basic value of Houston: cultural diversities and inter-ethnic coexistence.  Like many others, my colleagues and I from the Japanese community see to it that we always try to make the best possible contribution to the values of Houston.  The cherry blossom is just one example. 

Right now, at the Asia Society Texas Center, a Japanese ballerina and Taiko drummer are collaborating in an energetic performance with the Dominic Walsh Company.  I thank you all for coming to my residence today, but you are actually missing a wonderful evening at the Texas Center tonight.  The performance will continue through the weekend, so you still have a chance.  This is another example, anyway.

If we can add more colors to artistic landscape in Houston, we can surely add more tastes to gastronomic life in Houston.  Japanese Sake, from the earthquake stricken area, is waiting for you at the bar counter.  My country’s trade representative and I may perhaps dare to arrange a Sushi day in due course, a chance for a Sushi chef from Houston’s sister-city Chiba may enchant your tongue.

If we can enrich your gastronomic life in Houston, we can surely add more impetus to your dream and challenging spirit.  I am so honored to have a number of fabulous Japanese astronauts with us today, who work with Americans and other nationals to ensure the successful mission of the International Space Station.  Mr. Wakata, Dr. Furukawa, Mr. Onishi and Mr. Kanai, together with JAXA Director Mr. Sakai, thank you very much for joining us.  Mr. Leroy Chao is also joining us, who reminds me of my privilege to be stationed in Houston.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the sister-city relationship between Chiba City and Houston as well.  I am so honored to see the message from the Honorable Toshihito Kumagai, Mayor of Chiba City to celebrate us, as this is his fourth message this year addressed to Houstonians.  Not so many sister-cities kindly address so many messages to us.  He is confident that as cherry blossom trees grow, the ties between Chiba and Houston will continue to deepen.

I would like to express my special thanks to Director Joe Turner and all the members of Houston Parks & Recreation Department and Hermann Park Conservancy for their help in introducing and celebrating small cherry blossom saplings in Houston. 

I also pay special tribute to Mr. Kunio Minami and all the people taking care of the Japanese Garden.  I believe that, with your care and with blessings from all Houstonians, 20 saplings will grow steadily to be twice the height and possibly start blooming in five/six years time.  We all are so looking forward to that moment.

Thank you very much once again for joining us.  I wonder whether my valet parking is working properly, but it is truly my privilege to receive so many distinguished features to my residence.  I also am very honored to see Honorable Congressman Al Green today with us, which is a bit surprise because not so many can take his time out of the US Congress and CNN who persistently chase the Congressman every moment everywhere.  If he gives me a favor, I would like to ask Honorable Congressman Al Green to give us some words.