Born in Fukuoka, Toshio Katsuki , 56, is one of Japan's few experts on sakura, or cherry trees. His professional field is dendrology, the study of trees, and he has worked at the Kyushu branch of the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute in Kumamoto for the past 32 years.

1. What gets you out of bed every morning? I fundamentally like trees and want to learn more about them in detail. As I observe trees, I find ones that may die without human intervention. So, my work is directed at preserving them.

2. What two words best describe you? That's quite difficult. Two words for me are “spruce” and “sakura,” both of which I study. In my world of research, there is a joke that researchers become like their subjects. Spruces are an endangered species and may not exist in 100 years. I think I am like spruces in the way they live a quiet life deep in the mountains unbeknownst to others. On the other hand, I sympathize with sakura too. Like them, I live life with no desire for attention, but somehow attract it. I am in the spotlight because of my expertise in sakura.