LONDON – Saplings from a ginkgo tree linked to late Japanese Adm. Heihachiro Togo are set to “return” from Britain later this month.
The tree was donated by Japan in the late 19th century to Pembroke Dock, Wales, to thank locals for efforts to build the original Hiei battleship, for the now-defunct Imperial Japanese Navy, in a shipyard there.
That particular ginkgo tree has links with Togo, who was studying in Britain at the time and left for Japan aboard the battleship, whose launching ceremony was held in 1877. Togo stunned the world by defeating Russia’s Baltic Fleet during the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.
On Friday, a related ceremony was held at the official residence in London of Yasumasa Nagamine, the Japanese ambassador to Britain.
The project to send saplings from the ginkgo tree to Japan has been led by David James, an 81-year-old Welsh historian.
Some 30 saplings, which have been nurtured in the National Botanic Garden of Wales for two years, are scheduled to arrive in Japan by air around Dec. 23.
After the trees have adapted to the environment at the Hiroshima Botanical Garden, they will be transplanted around next spring to the former naval base host cities of Kure, in Hiroshima Prefecture, Maizuru, in Kyoto Prefecture, Sasebo, in Nagasaki Prefecture, and Yokosuka, in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Other destinations will include the city of Kagoshima, which is Togo’s birthplace, and a shrine named after him in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward.