Bright Spot in a Chilly Spring

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Summer 2017

By Alex Ehret

More than 40 members of the Japan Minnesota Association (JMA) attended the annual Ohanami, or cherry blossom viewing party, in Inogashira Park in western Tokyo on April 2. This event is always highly anticipated, as it’s a great chance for members to get together and enjoy each others’ company while picnicking under the unique beauty of the fleeting sakura blooms.

JMA was initially founded in 1984 for Japanese alumni of the University of Minnesota. It is now open to everyone who is interested in Minnesota, including families, study abroad students, new and experienced professionals, and many others.

One of the participants, Abbey Burtis, a study abroad student at Hitotsubashi University from the Carlson School said, “Ohanami was delightful! It was a pleasure to meet others connected to the University, share traditional Japanese food, and enjoy the beautiful sakura. I look forward to the next event hosted by the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, Tokyo chapter.”

Inogashira Park is a go-to place for cherry blossom viewing, boasting around 500 sakura trees, many of which surround the central pond. Despite this year’s unusual cold snap, the park was covered in the unmistakable sakura pink of opening buds and new flowers. Everybody gathered near the pond and enjoyed a potluck-style spread of homemade chirashizushi, niku-jaga, and many other traditional foods and snacks.

The Alumni Association has networks in 18 countries outside of the United States where alumni living internationally can connect with each other. To find one in your area, visit



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