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Portsmouth Peace Treaty Living Memorial Cherry Trees 2018


Cherry blossoms bloom in Portsmouth

The Portsmouth Peace Treaty Living Memorial Cherry Trees are in bloom all around the Seacoast and across New Hampshire, as a reminder and celebration of New Hampshire history and the citizen diplomacy that helped end the Russo-Japanese War.

In Japan, cherry blossom viewing, known as ‘hanami’ is a rich cultural tradition, understood as an opportunity to reflect on the beauty of spring and the fleeting nature of life’s transcendent moments.  The ‘sakura’ or cherry blossoms were used as a symbol of soldiers who died too young during the Russo-Japanese War. In fact, the four-volume novel about the war by Japan’s celebrated author Ryotaro Shiba is named Clouds Above the Hill in reference to the drifts of cherry blossoms on the hills of Japan.

The cherry trees in Portsmouth are particularly noticeable on the bank of South Mill Pond next to City Hall. These were a gift from Portsmouth’s Sister City, Nichinan Japan where Baron Komura the lead Japanese negotiator at the 1905 peace conference was born. The large trees were planted in 1985, the 80th anniversary of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty and the year the Sister City relationship was formed.

The smaller trees were planted after the Japan-America Society of NH (JASNH) learned that the iconic Washington DC cherry trees were a gift to the US from the Mayor of Tokyo, ‘in thanks for American help during the Russo-Japanese War.’ America’s key assistance during the war was President Theodore Roosevelt’s skill in orchestrating the peace conference that resulted in the Portsmouth Peace Treaty. In 2012, the 100th anniversary of the original gift of the cherry trees to Washington, JASNH arranged to receive saplings descended from those yoshino cherry trees and started planting them at key Treaty sites throughout the state as a Living Memorial to the treaty and New Hampshire citizen diplomacy.

In addition to City Hall, these cherry trees can be seen at Strawbery Banke Museum, the John Paul Jones House Museum, Wentworth By the Sea Hotel, Temple Israel and at all of the Portsmouth public schools. Portsmouth Peace Treaty Living Memorial cherry trees were also planted in Dublin, Hanover, Lancaster, Littleton, Manchester and Meredith.  The trees are marked by granite plaques supplied by the Japan-America Society of NH, explaining their Treaty history.

CAPTION: Portsmouth Peace Treaty Living Memorial cherry trees bloom at City Hall.


Wentworth By the Sea Hotel Living Memorial Cherry Tree

A delegation of 50 Japanese visitors from the Ryotaro Shiba Foundation, including the Director (far right) of the "Clouds Above the Hill" Museum in Osaka toured the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Trail sites (Wentworth By the Sea Hotel cherry tree above) on May 15, 2018.

Portsmouth Peace Treaty Living Memorial Cherry Tree in the Community Garden at Strawbery Banke Museum.

A new yoshino sapling from the National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC was planted at the Dublin Historical Society on May 17, 2018 to replace the previous tree damaged by winter and drought.

The cherry tree at Town Hall in Hanover NH, placed in honor of Kani'ichi Asakawa, Dartmouth student and author of Causes of the Russo-Japanese War.


For a month's view Calendar, click here.

The Japan-America Society is the 501c3 nonprofit that supports the efforts of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum. To join, click here.

© Richard Haynes
Haynes Images

For information about ordering fine art prints of this Treaty Centennial symbol, and other commemorative items, click here.

For information about the Russia Society of New Hampshire, write to
PO Box 177
Concord NH 03302-0177

For a Russian-language description of the Treaty exhibit click here.

For the Russian-language Library of Congress description of the Treaty of Portsmouth, click here.


 News and Links

To learn nore, the following books are available:

Heroes & Friends: Behind the Scenes of the Treaty of Portsmouth by Michiko Nakanishi

There Are No Victors Here: A Local Perspective on the Treaty of Portsmouth by Peter E. Randall

Also available:

An Uncommon Commitment to Peace Exhibit Catalogue published by the Japan-America Society of NH

Blessed Are the Peacemakers: The Service of Thanksgiving for the Portsmouth Treaty, September 5, 1905 by Marina Grot Turkevich Naumann

Original 1905 newsreel footage on DVD

Treaty of Portsmouth 1905-2005 book of reproduction historical postcards.

The Portsmouth Peace Process: Guide for Teachers by Northeast Cultural Coop

Portsmouth Peace Treaty Trail

For hours, directions, details on the Portsmouth Historical Society museum where the Portsmouth Peace Treaty exhibit is displayed, click here.

For hours, directions, details on Strawbery Banke Museum and the Shapiro House, owned by one of the founders of Temple Israel who figured in the Treaty citizen diplomacy, click here.

For information about Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Building 86 where the formal negotiations were held. click here.

For more information about Wentworth By the Sea Hotel, where both delegations stayed, click here.

For more information about Green Acre Bahai School and Sarah Farmer's commitment to the peace process, click here.

The Portsmouth Public Library maintains an micorfilm archive of local newspapers and an index of the relevant Treaty reporting and other related materials. The archive of original newspapers, photographs and other documents is maintained by the Portsmouth Athenaeum.



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