There is a legend of ‘Cherry Blossoms in Hibaru District’ in Fukuoka City. It was around 1984, nine cherry trees were standing in Hibaru District, Minami Ward, Fukuoka City, and the cherry blossoms pleased the local people every spring. However, these trees were suddenly forced to be cut down due to the road construction work. When a resident found one of the 9 cherry trees had been cut down, he wrote a poem on a strip of paper pleading with the city mayor to postpone the road construction work at least for another 20 days, and hang the paper on a branch of one of those cherry trees. The poem was written in Japanese words, ‘Hana aware semete ato 2-jun tsuino kaika wo yurushitamae’. (Cherry blossom buds look sad. Please keep them alive at least for another 20 days so that they have a chance to show us their best for the last time.)
A man found the poem while he was taking a walk. In fact, this man was Mr. Tatsuo Kawai, the then President of Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. He consulted with the manager of public relations in his company to do something about it. The manager consulted with a news writer of the Nishinippon Shimbun, and consequently, the news writer wrote an article about the poem and it appeared on the newspaper with a big headline. This news stirred people’s emotion, and at the same time, the citizens’ movement for rescuing the life of cherry trees became active. Consequently, the then Mayor Kazuma Shinto replied in the form of a poem to the said request, ‘Hana oshimu Yamatogokoro no uruwashiya towani niowan hana no kokoro wa’ (People feel sorry for the destiny of cherry blossoms. How graceful the Japanese people’s souls are. We pray for the Japanese people’s everlasting souls with the fragrance of cherry blossoms.) The citizens’ movement to rescue these cherry trees expanded throughout Japan, and finally the cherry trees were transferred to another place without any of them being cut. The place is the current Hibaru Cherry Blossom Park.
This movement was referred to as ‘the relays of cherry blossoms and people’s hearts’ and became a mirror of citizens’ movements. Both Mr. Tatsuo Kawai and Mr. Kazuma Shinto will go down in history as an excellent president and mayor, respectively.