A Plant Hunter Who Controls the Blooming of the Cherry Blossoms
Nishihata Seijun is a plant hunter who has traveled to more than forty countries in search of rare plants, which he delivers to international and domestic audiences. We asked him about his passion for cherry blossoms.
Nishihata Seijun is a plant hunter who explores the globe in search of plants of diverse species and sizes to meet the requests of his clients. In addition, he conducts an extensive range of plant-related activities, including landscape designing and holding plant-themed events, under the slogan “planting plants in people’s hearts.”
Nishihata has visited more than forty countries and handled many rare plants, but says that cherry blossoms are “special” to him.
“It’s hard to find a plant as charismatic as this one. Japanese people are moved by the beauty of cherry blossoms, and every spring eagerly anticipate their flowering, wondering if the flowers will bloom today. Cherry blossoms have featured in waka, traditional Japanese poetry, and been depicted in paintings since ancient times. The sheer number of cherry varieties is, I believe, the result of the love that so many people have for cherry blossoms and the passion of horticulturists.”
Nishihata’s most memorable experience regarding cherry blossoms was when he was commissioned by the Singapore government, which had arranged to hold an event showcasing cherry blossoms as a symbol of Japan to commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Japan. While cherry trees flower in the spring in Japan, the cold of the winter is still lingering, making it difficult to bring cherry trees to Singapore, where it is summer all year round, and have them flower at the desired time. Nishihata collected many varieties of cherry trees from around Japan and controlled their flowering to ensure a stunning display of blooms on the event dates, earning the admiration of the prime minister of Singapore and other involved parties.
“In nature, cherry trees will not bloom without the cold of winter. Therefore, when storing the branches of cherry trees, I control the timing of their flowering by lowering the ambient temperature and other methods depending on the variety of cherry trees and the place where they were grown. I am familiar with the correct temperature and control period for each cherry tree to achieve flowering at the appropriate time, so such an event is an opportunity for me to show my skills.
Nishihata comes from a long-established family of plant wholesalers with a history of over 150 years. “I grew up hearing that my great-grandfather had been a leading expert in flower blooming control a hundred years or so ago,” he says, explaining where his confidence in his skills originates.
“But even if I have 100 successes in blooming control, I will lose my credibility if I fail even once, so I always have to do my best.” Nishihata goes on, “Right now, people can’t come to Japan even if they want to. I believe that cherry trees planted in various parts of the world can play the role of goodwill ambassadors at this time.”
Nishihata’s thoughts have already turned to the smiles he will see when staging his next events overseas.