Fukushima Garden opened at Holland Park

On Tuesday 24 July 2012, the Fukushima Garden at Holland Park was officially opened to the public. This garden had been created to commemorate the deep gratitude of the Japanese people to the British people for their support following the natural disaster that struck Fukushima, Japan on 11 March 2011. The Fukushima Garden was designed by famed Kyoto landscape gardener Yasuo Kitayama.

The guests at the ceremony were welcomed by the Deputy Mayor, Councillor the Lady Borwick (Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea), and Ambassador Hayashi.

Since the opening of the Kyoto Garden in 1991, in a ceremony attended by HIH the Crown Prince of Japan and HRH The Prince of Wales, Holland Park has had close links with Japan. Indeed, Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan visited it earlier this year.

Three “Fukushima Ambassadors” (two students and one agricultural worker) were invited to Holland Park to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony of the garden and plant rhododendrons, which are a floral symbol of Fukushima prefecture. They have been chosen to signify the wish for a quick recovery in the region.

Speeches of thanks were given by the Fukushima Ambassadors, who also presented small gifts to the British students and the Head Gardener of Holland Park, Ian Flemming.

Fukushima Ambassadors and students from the Royal Borough of Kensington
and Chelsea officially opening the new Fukushima Garden at Holland Park

One of the Fukushima Ambassadors, Junior high school student Kanami Ajima, said in her speech,

My family lost our house in the tsunami. I was devastated back then but now I have pulled myself together and moved on, all thanks to the support from people all over the world. I have learned how precious our lives are, so I would like to pass on the story of my experience to the next generation. I would like to give a present to the people in the UK to show my appreciation for your support.

The ceremony at Holland Park also provided an opportunity for British people to show their support for the Japanese athletes that had arrived in London ahead of their Olympic campaign. Fukushima-born athletes Izumi Kato (swimmer) and Katsuaki Susa (boxer) were invited to attend the event, during which two British students presented them with national flags that had been signed with messages from British people for the members of Team Japan.

Ambassador Hayashi planting a rhododendron

Japanese Olympic athletes Izumi Kato and Katsuaki Susa receiving messages of support on behalf of their teammates