March General Meeting: ‘Cherry’ Ingram—The Englishman Who Saved Japan’s Blossoms by Naoko Abe
Date: March 15th, Wednesday Time: 20:00 to 21:30 (JST)
Format: Virtual. A Zoom link will be shared with attendees in the registration confirmation email and also in a reminder email on the day prior to the event.
Fee: Free. However, DONATIONS towards our scholarship and education funds are always welcome!
Naoko Abe will talk about Collingwood ‘Cherry’ Ingram (1880-1981), the Englishman Who Saved Japan’s Blossoms. Ingram, an eccentric Edwardian gentleman, fell in love with Japanese cherry blossoms at the beginning of the 20th century and went to Japan three times to bring back cuttings of different species and varieties of ornamental cherry trees. By the 1940s, he had created the world’s largest cherry tree collection in his garden in Benenden, Kent.
Ingram was determined to preserve the diversity of cherries at a time in the UK when many varieties were disappearing from Japan because of industrialisation and militarisation. He saved several varieties in his garden that had gone extinct in Japan.
Naoko will talk about the charm of blossoms both in the UK and Japan. She will also explain the historic symbolism of cherry blossoms, including the Japanese military’s ideological distortion of cherries during World War II. Cherry blossoms were used to encourage Kamikaze pilots to die bravely for their country.
Ingram’s legacy continues to the present day. She will explain how and why cherry blossoms are increasingly popular in the UK, with many new projects planned.
Naoko Abe is a UK-based journalist and non-fiction writer. Her first English-language book, ‘Cherry’ Ingram, The Englishman Who Saved Japan’s Blossoms, was published in March 2019 to critical acclaim. The book was chosen as the Book of the Week by BBC Radio 4 and received many positive reviews in major newspapers and magazines around the world. The book has been published in eight languages. The original book in Japanese won the prestigious Nihon Essayist Club award in 2016.
Naoko worked for the Mainichi Newspaper, one of Japan’s most influential newspapers, for many years and has written five books in Japanese. She is writing a new book in English to be published in February 2024. She has lived in the UK with her British husband since 2001.
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