More than 100 delicate sakura cherry trees situated on York University’s Keele Campus are poised to bloom within the next few days. The best display is located adjacent to Calumet College. Trees are also located in pockets around the campus, along Campus Walk, and there is a small group outside the Tait McKenzie Centre.
The trees were planted as part of the Japanese government’s Sakura Project, which symbolizes the long-standing close relationship between Japan and Canada and York University’s many cultural and academic ties with Japanese institutions.
The blooms, while short-lived, offer a magnificent display. The Japanese flowering cherry tree, or sakura, is a revered symbol of Japan. Its blossoming marks the arrival of spring and is celebrated in Waka and Haiku poetry, and with annual Hanami, or flower-viewing, picnics under the full blossoms of the sakura.
In 2003, York was the first university in Canada to participate in the Sakura Project, which had a goal of planting 3,000 trees in Ontario by 2005. More than a decade later, the trees planted on the Keele Campus continue to thrive.
In 2016, unseasonably warm weather and then a sudden cold snap killed many of the blossoms.