Embassy of Japan Gifts RMC With Cherry Blossom Sculpture

News Story categories: Asian Studies International Education International Studies Japanese Studies

In celebration of the enduring friendship between Japan and the United States in the wake of the death of alumna Taylor Anderson ’08, the Embassy of Japan gifted a sculpture today to Randolph-Macon College. “Full Circle Blossom,” designed by Washington D.C.-based artist Alex Goastièr as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s “Art in Bloom” exhibition, was unveiled on Randolph-Macon College’s campus to honor the special relationship between Japan and the College. 

Ambassador of Japan, Tomita Koji officially gifts the sculpture to Randolph-Macon College in honor of the special bond between RMC and Japan.

“The Embassy of Japan is proud to gift the ‘Full Circle Blossom’ sculpture created by Alex Goastièr to Randolph-Macon College, as a symbol of the strong ties between Japan and the United States,” said Tomita Koji, Ambassador of Japan to the United States. “The sculpture’s new permanent home at Randolph-Macon will honor the passing of RMC student Taylor Anderson during the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. We hope that the sculpture will inspire both current and future students to build international ties in their own lives.” 

A dedication ceremony for the sculpture was held Wednesday, September 29 with members of the RMC community, and Virginia and Embassy of Japan representatives in attendance. Mr. Koji and Randolph-Macon College President Robert R. Lindgren celebrated the College’s relationship with Japan, a unique cultural and academic exchange that was strengthened in the wake of the 2011 death of Anderson.

Sculpture artist Alex Goastièr sits on the cherry blossom sculpture

“Since Taylor’s tragic death, Randolph-Macon has been honored by enthusiastic support of both new and existing programs that connect students to Japanese culture, and our community is better for it,” said President Lindgren. “This sculpture brings this beautiful and consequential relationship to life in a vivid way, and we are grateful to the nation of Japan for this honor.”

The cherry blossom sculpture was installed next to a bench dedicated to Anderson outside McGraw-Page Library. Anderson, who taught English to elementary-age students in the seaside town of Ishinomaki in the Miyagi province of Japan, was the first American victim identified in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. 

A group of people posing in front of a sculpture.

RMC is one of a select few colleges in the region to offer a Japanese Studies minor, which provides students with a comprehensive approach to the study of Japanese language, culture, and history. The College offers numerous study abroad experiences in Japan as well as exchange programs thanks to generous support from the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund, the Mellon Foundation, the U.S.-Japan Council’s TOMODACHI Fund, and the Japan Foundation’s Center for Global Partnerships. To date, nearly 200 students and 30 faculty and staff have had the opportunity and support to travel to Japan to study and conduct research.