FIRST PHOTO: Yuzo Kanno, of Japan, helps plant a Japanese pine tree (matsu) Saturday morning at the Kepaniwai Park Japanese Garden. The tree was planted to honor the memory of the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. It also was a symbol of friendship and support between the people of Japan and residents of Maui. Members of the Aloha Initiative program each had a chance to help plant the tree along with community members and government officials. Organizers also unveiled a plaque that will rest next to the tree. A matsu is a symbol of long life and perseverance.
SECOND PHOTO: Yumiko Nishimoto, of Japan, assists Terumichi Togawa, 9, as he waters the matsu Saturday morning in Iao Valley. The Rev. Jeffrey Soga (at right) leads prayers during the tree planting ceremony.
THIRD PHOTO: About 40 residents of Japan will fly home today after spending about a month with Maui families for respite from the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster. A group of about 30 students and a group of 10 adults and children will leave on separate flights, said Lynn Araki-Regan, one of the founders of the Aloha Initiative. More than 20 Japan residents will remain on Maui as part of the respite, goodwill program, Araki-Regan said. Most are expected to return home Sept. 21. The Aloha Initiative plans to bring another group of Japan residents to Maui, possibly in October, she said.
The Maui News / AMANDA COWAN photo