A Japanese garden that will include a pavilion and 17 flowering cherry trees will be constructed at Michigan State University’s Tollgate Farm and Education Center in Novi.
The ceremonial launch for The Sakura Garden project is set for Nov. 1 at 2 p.m. Local dignitaries and sponsors as well as Mitsuhiro Wada, Consul General of Japan in Detroit and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, are expected to attend. The site is at 28115 Meadowbrook Road in Novi.
“I am honored to be present for the launch of the Sakura Garden project in Novi,” Wada said. “It is my hope that when the garden is completed, it will be a place where Japanese and American families congregate to enjoy cherry blossoms together.”
Patterson, who donated $10,000 toward the $150,000 project, said Oakland County has more than 270 Japanese-owned firms with business locations here. Japan is the largest source of foreign direct investment in the county.
“We wanted to create a destination that will last for generations and can be enjoyed by everyone,” Patterson said. “We have warm relationships with Japan and the many Japanese companies that operate here. This project just adds to the quality of life that makes our county so attractive.”
The project is the result of a partnership between Michigan State University, the Japanese Consulate of Detroit, the Japanese Business Society of Detroit, Novi and the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs.
Economic developers from Oakland County travel to Japan a least once a year to meet with the leaders of companies that are already here and in an attempt to attract other companies who may be interested in expanding operations to North America, said Irene Spanos, the county’s director of economic development.
“I’m grateful to the many Japanese firms operating in Oakland County and our other partners for supporting The Sakura Garden,” Spanos said. “Without their generous support, this project doesn’t happen.”
Fourteen other sponsors besides the county executive contributed $10,000 each to support the project and create an endowment to maintain the garden: Daifuku North American Holding Co., Deloitte & Touche (Japanese Services Group), Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas, Inc., KIP America, NGK Sparkplugs (USA) Inc., NHK International, Nissan Technical Center North America, One World Market, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Toyoda Americas Corp., Toyoda Gosei North America Corp., Toyota Boshoku America, Toyota Industries Electric Systems North America and Toyota Tsusho America, Inc.
The project is expected to be completed in summer 2018. Michigan also will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its sister-state relationship with Japan’s Shiga Prefecture. Matt MacDougall, a senior project manager with Oakland County, designed the pavilion.