Cherry blossom wars: China growers claim symbol of Japan as their own

Old literary references prove flower synonymous with Japan originated on Chinese soil, argues association, after South Korea has also laid claim to the species

 Joggers run past cherry blossom in Tokyo on Sunday. Photo: AFP

A group in China has weighed into the debate about the origins of a flower synonymous with Japan, the cherry blossom, saying it was first found on Chinese soil.

He Zongru, executive chairman of the China Cherry Blossom Association, told a press conference that historical references proved that the flower originally came from China.

He’s comments came after media reports in South Korea earlier this month suggested that cherry blossom was first found in the country’s southern province of Jeju.

“We don’t want to start a war of words with Japan or Korea, but we would like to state the fact that many historical literary references prove that cherry blossom originated in China. As Chinese, we are obliged to let more people know about this part of history.” he was quoted a saying by the Southern Metropolis News.

He said the species spread to Japan from the Himalayan region during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).

Zhang Zuoshuang, an official at the Botanical Society of China, was quoted as saying that among the 150 types of wildly-grown cherry blossoms around the world, more than 50 could be found in China.

The botanical debate reflects the sometimes prickly relations between Japan and neighbouring China and South Korea, both occupied by Japanese military forces during the last century.

Some Japanese media reports about South Korean claims to the flower earlier this month were sceptical.

Dr Takeshi Kinoshita, a professor of botany at Teikyo University questioned why South Korea made similar claims virtually every year when the blossom came into bloom, the Japan Times reported.

He at the China Cherry Blossom Association was less diplomatic.

“To put it simply, cherry blossoms originated in China and prospered in Japan. None of this is Korea’s business,” he was quoted as saying.

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 March, 2015, 12:23pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 March, 2015, 12:58pm

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