Sacramento, CA 95811
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About the Park
Throughout the world, people gather each spring under blossoming cherry trees to celebrate the beautiful transience of nature and life. In Japan, this activity is called hanami and draws thousands of families to picnic, play and relax in its parks. Sacramento's Hanami Line is designed for this wonderful tradition along with many year-round uses ranging from meditation and yoga to lively food, art and music festivals.
The 1.5 acre Hanami Line, easily viewed from Interstate 5, is located just up the river from the historic Old Sacramento Waterfront and in walking distance to both the Railyards and the Museum of Science and Curiosity.
Opening in 2024
When the Hanami Line opens in 2024, visitors will be struck by the many one-of-a-kind features displayed among the 100 'Pink Flair' ornamental cherry trees. These features include:
• The spectacular Matsuyama Dori (or walkway) that leads visitors from the foot of an iconic lighted sculpture along seigaiha wave-patterned pavers and art-infused inlays on a path pointing directly toward our Japanese sister city, Matsuyama.
• Four separate bosques, or mini forests, that vary in design from urban to organic. Seating elements are scattered throughout and placed to accommodate a wide variety of events from small family picnics to large outdoor concerts. Particularly meaningful are the benches created from local fallen trees milled by the Tree Foundation's Urban Wood Rescue program.
• Japanese parasol-inspired shade structures that provide visitors protective seating options throughout the changing seasons.
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Honoring the Japanese American community
The history of Japanese immigrants and their descendants in Sacramento is both rich and bittersweet. Drawn by the promises of abundant work opportunities in the agricultural fields, Japanese men began immigrating to Sacramento in the late 1880s. While many of these immigrants chose to work as farmers, those who preferred city life quickly established a vibrant 'Japanese Quarter' between 3rd and 4th Streets and L and M Streets. Unfortunately, there is little evidence of this today due to two historic events.
The first was the internment of Japanese Americans to camps across the country during World War II. Homes and businesses were seized, educations disrupted, and families separated. Upon their return, however, through resilience and hard work, Sacramento's Japanese American families began to reestablish a successful business community while supporting their children's advanced education. Then in the 1950s, redevelopment - a combination of freeway construction and the expansion of the Capitol Mall - led to the destruction of downtown's Japanese neighborhoods and businesses. And still, this remarkable community persevered and thrived.
Author Eric Rutkow noted, "How easy it is to forget that much of American history has been defined by trees." The Hanami Line at Robert T. Matsui Park gives the Sacramento region the opportunity to add a positive and life-affirming chapter to its history in recognizing the lasting contributions the Japanese American community has made to our city.
While traveling in Japan on business, long-time Sacramento resident Joe Rodota was introduced to the phenomena of hanami, or flower viewing. "The cherry trees form a canopy over the walkways and people bring their blankets and take up every square inch of the park under the trees and hangout," remembers Rodota.
During their Hanami visit in Toyko's Ueno Park, Rodota's friend remarked that sakura means cherry blossom, and perhaps Sacramento should be called Sakuramento. Little did he know, this was the name used by the first Japanese settlers in Sacramento in the late 1880s.
Upon his return, Rodota called his economist friend Lon Hatamiya. Together they began to brainstorm on how to bring the Hanami experience to Sacramento.
This led to the birth of Sakuramento, a community organization that celebrates Sacramento's unique connections to Japan through food, nature, and community. To determine whether the idea of building a Hanami Line was indeed a fantastic idea, the two co-chairs knew they needed to hear the insights of the Sacramento Tree Foundation.
Ray Tretheway, the Tree Foundation's former executive director, has received many calls like this over the years, but this one was clearly different. "It evolved so organically. Everyone was invited - there was no egocentric ownership. It was a grassroots idea that eventually became an iconic, powerful project."
In 2013, the Tree Foundation asked the public for proposals for a Hanami Line in Sacramento. Nearly two dozen suggestions were submitted, seven of which were serious contenders. The ultimate winner suggested a site along the Sacramento River stretching from Old Sacramento to the confluence of the American River. This ambitious idea was then scaled down to focus on the grounds of Robert T. Matsui Park (named after the late Sacramento Congressman).
Hatamiya sees the Hanami Line as, "a great social gathering place for Sacramento but also an opportunity to honor the legacy of my grandparents and those of their generation that came to this country as immigrants not knowing anything but nonetheless contributed in a huge way." The Tree Foundation agrees this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate Sacramento's Japanese American community and has entered its first-ever capital campaign to make this a reality.
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Tuesday, 5 December, 2023
Event & Festival ContactHanami Line at Robert T. Matsui Park - Sacramento
Phone: (916) 808-5200
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