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Cherry blossoms to decorate Summit (June 1, 2008)

Sargent cherry branches wait to bloom in snow containers

BIBAI - Approximately 400 cherry tree branches set to bloom a month from now have been put into low-temperature storage in the city's Chashinai area as part of a plan to decorate the Hokkaido Toyako Summit (July 7-9) with full-bloom cherry blossoms.

The project is being conducted by the Bibai Natural Energy Research Association, whose office is located in the city hall. The association is made up of individuals from academic, business, and governmental bodies involved in efforts to utilize snow cooling systems, and has succeeded in making cherry blossoms bloom in summer by retarding the flowering season using low-temperature environments.

Containers holding Sargent and Chishima cherry branches were buried in approximately 700 tons of snow in late March. The snow mountain was covered with bark for insulation, maintaining the inner temperature at around zero, with the branches placed in buckets in the snow to keep them cool. Although their growth is currently on hold due to the low temperature, the buds will become active when they are moved outdoors, and will flower around a week later if the weather permits.

The containers will be dug out in late June for the blooming cherry blanches to be displayed at the International Media Center (IMC), the press conference site for the Summit in Shiribeshi Subprefecture's Rusutsu Village.

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