Friendship: To commemorate the fourth anniversary of the historic state visit to Japan by His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, three Cypress saplings will be planted at the Japan’s world heritage site, Nijo Castle, in Kyoto on October 21.

Director of Kyoto-Bhutan Friendship Association, Rev. Jiko Shigeru Sato is in the country to receive the saplings as a gift from His Majesty The King. The saplings will be planted with a grand celebration, he said.

The director said although other species of cypress are available in Japan, Bhutanese cypress are sacred and of spiritual value.  Besides being Bhutan’s national tree, Japanese, particularly people of Fukushima consider cypress sacred because of its attachment with Guru Rinpoche.

Narrating His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen visit to Kyoto after the devastating Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami, director Sato said the simplicity of Their Majesties traveling by road to meet affected people has deeply touched Japan.

“Bhutan’s cypress trees with its sacred spirituality will bring peace to Fukushima people’s mind and give them courage to overcome fear and horror,” he said. “On behalf of the people of Fukushima, I want to convey that we’ve deep reverence for Their Majesties.”


The three saplings that will travel to Japan

Residents of Fukushima continue to live in fear of another similar disaster after the 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami that killed over 16,000 people. Until now, 110,000 people are living as evacuees in temporary house while 45,000 of them have left Fukushima.

The saplings will be planted coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Bhutan.

Meanwhile, director Sato is carrying along with him a crafted tiger that he, on behalf of Fukushima, will offer to His Majesty The King. Japan does not have tigers but the animal is considered a traditional craft, which has descended from 300 years ago.

They believe that if gifted, it is believed to help them grow strong like a tiger. Such crafted tigers were given to soldiers as a lucky charm by family members during war times to help them return home safely. Tigers are believed to have a natural ability to return to their lairs after a hunt even from more than 4,000 km away.

The crafted tiger, Sato said, was specially prepared by Showich Hashinoto, an heir of the schoolmaster who started the tradition 300 years ago.

Nirmala Pokhrel


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