Every spring, the Japanese celebrate Ohanami, or “flower viewing,” during the time when sakura (cherry blossoms) are in bloom. On April 18, Wesleyan’s Japanese community hosted its annual Ohanami outside the College of East Asian Studies.
This event was open to current and former students in Japanese classes, native speakers of Japanese, and CEAS faculty members.
Guests gathered outside the Freeman Family Japanese Garden.
Participants enjoyed a Japanese lunch with sushi, yaki-udon and yaki-soba, fermented fruits known as umeboshi, tea, and Japanese snacks.
The blossom-viewers took turns playing the Slippery Chopsticks Game.
During the game, players see how fast they can pick up beans using chopsticks. At right, Scott Aalgaard, assistant professor of East Asian studies, joined in on the fun.
Participants mingled while watching their peers play Slippery Chopsticks.
Prizes were awarded to the winners.
Cherry tree blooms usually only last a couple of weeks.
Students enrolled in JAPN218 and JAPN220 courses took turns reading a story—in Japanese and English—about the CEAS’s cherry trees.
The students explained that the College’s three cherry trees were donated in the mid-70s by Nobel Laureate Satoshi Omura, who received an honorary degree from Wesleyan in 1994. In 1971, Satoshi was invited to be a visiting research professor by the late Professor Max Tishler of Wesleyan’s Department of Chemistry. Their partnership culminated in the discovery and development of the hugely successful Avermectin and Ivermectin, which garnered Omura the 2015 Nobel Prize. In 2005, Wesleyan named Satoshi the inaugural Max Tishler Professor of Chemistry.
As a gesture to express his deepest thanks and respect for his mentor and great friend Max Tishler, his family, and everyone at Wesleyan, Omura donated three Japanese cherry blossom trees to be planted in the garden of Wesleyan’s Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies. Satoshi’s hope was that the trees would become a long-lasting reminder of his everlasting appreciation for the friendship, guidance, and support that he had received during and after his time at Wesleyan.
Alissa Nakamoto ’21 and Liz Atalig ’21 gathered under the blossoming trees.
Nia Felton ’21 poses in the blossoms.
The event was coordinated by Naho Maruta, assistant professor of the practice in East Asian studies; Japanese language and cocurricular coordinator, College of East Asian Studies.