Peace message blossoms in Cowra | Photos

Over 40 students from Yokohama Elementary School joined their Cowra Peers Alana and Ryan Kiss at a tree planting ceremony on Friday.

The trees were the seventh and eighth trees donated by the school since 2016, Cowra Mayor, Cr Bill West, said the tree’s represented the special relation ship between Japan and Australia.

“This tree planting is very special to Cowra, with just under 1000 cherry trees planted in what we call Sakura Avenue since 1988,” he said.

“Having been to Japan a few times I was in Yokohama a number of years ago and had the opportunity to visit the Commonwealth war graves where fallen Australian solders and even some Cowra solders have there final resting place.

“So the relationship between Yokohama and Cowra is very special and I do appreciate the wonderful way the community of Yokohama look after those war graves,” he said.

Cr West said the Japanese students could return home safe in the knowledge Alana and Ryan would be looking after the trees.

During the ceremony Cr West was presented with a chain of paper cranes from the student representatives Sakaya Matsuchita and Haruka Nomiyama.

The cranes had messages to fallen Australian and Japans soldiers alongside messages of peace. 

“Last year we watched a movie about Cowra Breakout,” they said.

“We hadn’t known about the breakout before that. We can’t understand all of the situation but I think we have to try to understand it at least, because we wan’t to do what we can do for peace.

“Paper cranes are part of Japanese traditional culture and we pray the messages of peace are somehow received.”

It was also a special occasion for Middy Nakajima from IEC Oceania who took part in his 47th tree planting ceremony.

Mr Nakajima said every time he visited Cowra it felt like returning home.

“Cherry blossoms are a very special tree for Japanese people and every time we plant a tree here we wish for peace, not only between Australia and Japan, but for the whole world,” he said.

“Cowra is a place where very sad things happened and we should not forget what happened here, We need to pass the message of peace on to the Japanese people.

“I hope we get the chance to come back for another 10 or 15 years.”