Fifty Gifu cherry blossom trees planted in Rotorua are expected to attract more Japanese tourists to the Sulphur City.
About 60 Japanese Gifu Cherry Blossom Group members, dressed in bright pink kimonos helped to plant the trees on Mt Ngongotaha outside the Skyline Restaurant.
Skyline general manager Neville Nicholson said with Japanese tourism numbers down, the blossoming trees would make New Zealand a more attractive option for many travellers.
The Rotorua planting would be extensively advertised in Japan and Japanese tourism operators in New Zealand would be notified of the tree planting.
"The cherry blossom tree is very important to the people of Japan. [This planting] will foster a relationship between New Zealand and Japan for many generations to come.
"These trees will be a catalyst for the people of Japan to come to Rotorua. Because our seasons are opposite, they will get the chance to see the trees in blossom twice," he said.
Gifu Cherry Blossom Group president Kazuo Kawashima said cherry blossoms were loved by the Japanese people and considered a symbol of friendship and peace.
The group have planted thousands of the trees at significant spots including the Eiffel Tower and at Memorial Square in Washington.
"The trees are a symbol of friendship and peace. We are doing this to foster friendship and peace between us and the rest of the world," he said. Cherry blossom trees were of significance to the Japanese, Mr Kawashima said.
Japanese tour bus driver Ryoji Sato dreamed of peace between all nations and began planting the spring blooming trees at stops along his route with the plan of developing a beautiful constellation of cherry blossoms for world peace. He died before all the plantings were completed and now Gifu Cherry Group members travel the world planting the seeds of peace.
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