Japanese cherry blossom will adorn the campus and light up the mood of students and faculty every spring, just like the lush tapestry of yellow birch and maple leaves does every autumn.
On a bright autumn day of September 24, Yasumasa Iijima, Consul General of Japan in St Petersburg, favoured the University with three sakura trees.
Japanese has been taught at Herzen University for quarter of a century, with the number of students rising every year. Pedagogical Seasons participants have also been eager to visit workshops and lectures connected to Japan, which indicates that there are quite a lot of people interested in Japan at Herzen University. A spring Japanese declamatory contest has already become a tradition, with students of Japanese looking forward to it, preparing and passionately participating. In August, Mr. Iijima met University rector Sergey Bogdanov and promised to give the University a sakura tree to serve as an authentic backdrop for the declamatory contest.
When making the gift, Mr. Iijima noted that “For many years, Herzen University has trained outstanding scholars on Japan. Consulate General of Japan and Herzen University are long-term friends and partners. I am sure that even dozens of years from now these sakura trees will blossom with history and students’ gratitude.”
The University made thorough preparations to welcome this piece of Japan and choose a place to host it. Yulia Komarova, Vice-Rector for International Cooperation, shared more information: “At the western entrance to the University there is a set of three sculptures called the ‘Three Graces.’ Now, the eastern entrance will also be adorned by three graces, these majestic trees that symbolise the wonderful Land of the Rising Sun. When we first learned about the expected gift, we immediately started preparing and searching for a location where the trees would be sheltered from winds and direct sun. But, most importantly, this area is special, because it is right next to the Russian Home and the Avenue of Love.”
Vyacheslav Kalganov, Deputy Chairman of Committee for External Relations of Saint-Petersburg, who was one of the honorary guests of the ceremony, expressed his hope that the friendship between Russia and Japan will only grow, and Japanese symbols will come to adorn other city landmarks. Yury Kalugin, Director of the Botanical Garden, added that sakura is not only stunning in spring, but will also shine with scarlet of its leaves when all the other trees will have already dropped theirs.
To show their gratitude, students of Herzen University Institute of Oriental Studies performed a Japanese song about sakura, and Romantic Dance Studio participants performed a Russian birch tree dance.