From Hiroshima to Tappan: A tree’s legacy of resilience


By Laurie Hamame - lhamame@aimmediamidwest.com



Ann Sherif hosts the dedication of a tree that survived the A-bomb’s decimation of Hiroshima, Japan. It is now located on Tappan Square.


The Oberlin College taiko team performs the traditional art form of Japanese drumming.


Kaya Sakakibara wears a necklace made of cranes, which represent a wish for peace and wellness.


Kaya Sakakibara and Oberlin College president Carmen Ambar soil and water the sapling.


Taiyo Scanlon-Kimura reads a message from the co-founders of Green Legacy Hiroshima in Japanese and English.


Nearly 80 people came to celebrate the planting of a ginkgo sapling grown from the seeds of Hiroshima’s atomic bombed trees.


Roy Ebihara signs a card that will be sent to the Green Legacy Hiroshima initiative, established to spread the seeds of Hiroshima’s bombed trees worldwide.


Ambar, Sakakibara, and Sherif pose on Tappan Square.


College biology professor Mike Moore is an expert on plant evolution.


College president Carmen Ambar shares her experience of living abroad in Japan.


Roy Ebihara is applauded for bringing a taiko team to Oberlin.


“Planting Trees”

A poem by Wendell Berry

In the mating of trees,

the pollen grain entering invisible

the domed room of the winds, survives

the ghost of the old forest

that stood here when we came. The ground

invites it, and it will not be gone.

I become the familiar of that ghost

and its ally, carrying in a bucket

twenty trees smaller than weeds,

and I plant them along the way

of the departure of the ancient host.

I return to the ground its original music.

It will rise out of the horizon

of the grass, and over the heads

of the weeds, and it will rise over

the horizon of men’s heads. As I age

in the world it will rise and spread,

and be for this place horizon

and orison, the voice of its winds.

I have made myself a dream to dream

of its rising, that has gentled my nights.

Let me desire and wish well the life

these trees may live when I

no longer rise in the mornings

to be pleased by the green of them

shining, and their shadows on the ground,

and the sound of the wind in them.

A sapling grown from the seeds of a tree that survived the Hiroshima bombings was planted Wednesday on Tappan Square.

The explosion killed 70,000 citizens instantly and an additional 100,000 died from radiation exposure.

“The gingko biloba has existed on this planet for 250 million years,” said college biology professor Mike Moore. “This is the last species, the last survivor of this lineage.”

The ultimate testament to the resiliency of this tree is the fact that it survived a hydrogen bomb, he said.

The young hibakujumoku — a Japanese term for trees that survived the atomic bombing 72 years ago — was brought to Oberlin by Tomoko Watanabe, a second-generation survivor.

She co-founded the Green Legacy Hiroshima initiative, a joint project by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and ANT-Hiroshima. It was established to spread the seeds and saplings of Hiroshima’s A-bomb trees worldwide.

Oberlin College biology professor Mary Garvin and many students took care of the seedling over the past two years.

The trees represent the resilience of nature and serve as a warning about mass destruction and the dangers of nuclear weapons, said Ann Sherif, professor of East Asian studies.

“The gingko saplings recently planted here are small, vulnerable thirsting for rain, and also facing a cold, harsh, Northeast Ohio winter,” she said. “We are here to confirm our commitment to nurturing the trees, to knowing their histories, and to learning about human beings’ complex and violent histories and relationships with nature.”

She read a poem called “Planting Trees” by Wendell Berry before introducing college president Carmen Ambar, who lived with a host family in Japan during high school.

She remembers visiting a museum in Hiroshima and seeing the “shadow” of a victim that was burned onto the steps.

“I remember being really moved by that experience and thinking to myself about the resilience of the human spirit,” she said. “Some of what we’re celebrating today is our commitment to ensuring that our environment is resilient as well.”

Ambar and Kaya Sakakibara, the daughter of Chie Sakakibara, assistant professor of environmental studies, helped water and soil the soon-to-be towering tree.

A message from the co-founders of Green Legacy Hiroshima was read in Japanese and English by Taiyo Scanlon-Kimura, an employee with the college’s career development center.

“The survivor trees of Hiroshima silently, patiently, and nobly keep reminding us of fundamental questions about the survival of humans in the Nuclear Age — but also about the way we conduct ourselves in this world with regard to nature and one another,” he read. “For us, the love of nature and the love of other humans are intertwined. This message has never been more important or more urgent. May many hear it.”

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

Ann Sherif hosts the dedication of a tree that survived the A-bomb’s decimation of Hiroshima, Japan. It is now located on Tappan Square.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/10/web1_IMG_6522.jpgAnn Sherif hosts the dedication of a tree that survived the A-bomb’s decimation of Hiroshima, Japan. It is now located on Tappan Square.

The Oberlin College taiko team performs the traditional art form of Japanese drumming.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/10/web1_IMG_6520.jpgThe Oberlin College taiko team performs the traditional art form of Japanese drumming.

Kaya Sakakibara wears a necklace made of cranes, which represent a wish for peace and wellness.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/10/web1_IMG_6539.jpgKaya Sakakibara wears a necklace made of cranes, which represent a wish for peace and wellness.

Kaya Sakakibara and Oberlin College president Carmen Ambar soil and water the sapling.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/10/web1_IMG_6535.jpgKaya Sakakibara and Oberlin College president Carmen Ambar soil and water the sapling.

Taiyo Scanlon-Kimura reads a message from the co-founders of Green Legacy Hiroshima in Japanese and English.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/10/web1_IMG_6530.jpgTaiyo Scanlon-Kimura reads a message from the co-founders of Green Legacy Hiroshima in Japanese and English.

Nearly 80 people came to celebrate the planting of a ginkgo sapling grown from the seeds of Hiroshima’s atomic bombed trees.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/10/web1_IMG_6548.jpgNearly 80 people came to celebrate the planting of a ginkgo sapling grown from the seeds of Hiroshima’s atomic bombed trees.

Roy Ebihara signs a card that will be sent to the Green Legacy Hiroshima initiative, established to spread the seeds of Hiroshima’s bombed trees worldwide.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/10/web1_IMG_6553.jpgRoy Ebihara signs a card that will be sent to the Green Legacy Hiroshima initiative, established to spread the seeds of Hiroshima’s bombed trees worldwide.

Ambar, Sakakibara, and Sherif pose on Tappan Square.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/10/web1_IMG_6544.jpgAmbar, Sakakibara, and Sherif pose on Tappan Square.

College biology professor Mike Moore is an expert on plant evolution.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/10/web1_IMG_6528.jpgCollege biology professor Mike Moore is an expert on plant evolution.

College president Carmen Ambar shares her experience of living abroad in Japan.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/10/web1_IMG_6524.jpgCollege president Carmen Ambar shares her experience of living abroad in Japan.

Roy Ebihara is applauded for bringing a taiko team to Oberlin.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/10/web1_IMG_6523.jpgRoy Ebihara is applauded for bringing a taiko team to Oberlin.

By Laurie Hamame

lhamame@aimmediamidwest.com

“Planting Trees”

A poem by Wendell Berry

In the mating of trees,

the pollen grain entering invisible

the domed room of the winds, survives

the ghost of the old forest

that stood here when we came. The ground

invites it, and it will not be gone.

I become the familiar of that ghost

and its ally, carrying in a bucket

twenty trees smaller than weeds,

and I plant them along the way

of the departure of the ancient host.

I return to the ground its original music.

It will rise out of the horizon

of the grass, and over the heads

of the weeds, and it will rise over

the horizon of men’s heads. As I age

in the world it will rise and spread,

and be for this place horizon

and orison, the voice of its winds.

I have made myself a dream to dream

of its rising, that has gentled my nights.

Let me desire and wish well the life

these trees may live when I

no longer rise in the mornings

to be pleased by the green of them

shining, and their shadows on the ground,

and the sound of the wind in them.