Monday, March 23, 2009

Kimono Does not Go with Cherry Blossom

A group of local tourists were booed away from Wuhan University campus last Friday afternoon.

Wuhan University was taken as the headquarters of occupation force during WWII. The first batch of cherry trees were planted on campus around 1939 by Japanese army as a symbol of victory. Although cherry trees dies in 20-30 years, cherry tree populations has enjoyed a steadily growth ever since. Every year in the cherry blossom time, hundreds of thousands of Wuhan residents will come to Wuhan University to appreciate the scene. Wuhan University students will round up the entire campus, including adjacent road, hills and lakes with ropes, in order to charge a 'special cherry blossom fee'. However, guide brochure distributed at the entrant tells you the trees has been on campus 'forever'. It is a taboo to make any connection between cherry trees in Wuhan University and Japan.

When a group of 4 people, all with local accent, went to Wuhan University on March 21, 2009 to appreciate the cherry blossom, they were booed by a mob of Wuhan University students because a lady and a young woman were wearing kimono. Soon other tourists joined the students, and shouted anti-Japanese slogans. The group immediately stopped taking pictures, and took off kimonos. A reporter at the scene interviewed the family. They said they did not have specific intention, only thought kimono looked pretty with cherry blossoms.

A student who preferred to be anonymous told the reporter that it's unforgivable to make such connections between Japan and Wuhan University. The University would be ashamed if was connected to the humiliation of Japanese occupation which resulted more than 30 million Chinese civilians death. They would probably have to cut the symbols of Japanese occupation. However, it's crucial to the financial stability to keep the trees and revenue from cherry blossom tourism. A campus security officer interviewed vowed they will tighten up the security at entrance, and will not allow similar incidents to happen again.

According to the official web site, the Washington DC cherry blossom will take place between March 28 to April 12 in 2009. The peak bloom period will be from April 1-4.

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