Metro officials and Little Tokyo community members gather at the last surviving cherry tree on Oct. 14. From left: Susan Santoro, Johnny Truong, Olga Arroyo, Gary Baker, Marice Quezada, Kay Kamei, Mat Antonelli, Jeanmarie Hance, Brian Kito and John Yen.
The last remaining cherry tree on Central Avenue in Little Tokyo was moved and placed into a planter on Oct. 14.
The tree, planted as part of an initiative spearheaded by the late Tom Kamei, will be kept at Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple through the duration of construction on the Metro Regional Connector.
Brian Kito said that he hopes the tree will eventually be replanted underneath the mural titled “Home is Little Tokyo” on Central between First and Second streets. Among those gathered to celebrate the lone sakura was Kamei’s wife, Kay.
“It took a lot of red tape to get it done and Jeanmarie Hance of Metro was so kind to making it happen. Kay Kamei was extremely happy that we are still remembering her husband Tom, and his efforts to make this special project.” said Kito. “I think it is very important as an icon of Little Tokyo to preserve this tree and place it to mark all the efforts that have been put forward over the years. We may have lost Oiwake (restaurant), but we will never lose this tree or Nancy’s (Kikuchi) mural.”