By Betsy Thorpe
Hiroshi Sato arrived in the Unites States in the fall of 2008, to head the Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville. Japan is the first and only country to hold a Consulate-General in the State of Tennessee. The consular office provides services to the 9,000 Japanese citizens currently living in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee and also works within the region to promote and aid cultural exchanges and to create and nurture business partnerships between the United States and Japan.
On April 18th, the First Annual Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival was held on Nashville’s Public Square at the Metro Courthouse. The festival was established by the Japan-America Society of Tennessee with the help of Consular-General Sota. The society has set a goal to plant 1,000 cherry trees throughout the city, 100 each year over the next ten years. During the opening ceremony Consular-General Sota said that when he first arrived in Nashville he “dreamed of Cherry trees blooming in the city as a reminder of the lasting ties between Japan and Nashville”. The celebration presided over by Mayor Karl Dean and General-Consul Hiroshi Sato included performances by the Taiko Drummers, a traditional Japanese drum troupe from Houston Texas and by Nashville school children who sang the national anthems of the United States and Japan. In remarks following the performances Mayor Karl Dean, said that he looks forward to Nashville’s Cherry Blossom Festival ” becoming an important date on the city’s civic calendar”. The festival concluded with Mayor Dean and General-Consul Sota participating in the ceremonial planting of Cherry trees on the Public Square. Following the festival cherry trees were also planted in Nashville’s Centennial Park and in Forrest Hills.
Hiroshi Sato brings many years of experience to Nashville, he first entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1973 and his overseas assignments include the Embassies of Japan in Washington, D.C, Malaysia, New Zealand and the Philippines. He also served as First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, Political Counselor of the Embassy of Japan in Egypt, Director of Ocean Affairs, Director for Protection of Japanese Nationals Overseas, Deputy Consul General of Japan in New York and in Hong Kong, China before he assumed his current position in Nashville.