The big news around campus is about a mother and daughter, who recently visited the campus to have their pictures taken under the cherry blossoms. Perfectly normal -- the only problem was that these Chinese women were sporting Japanese Kimonos (which, btw, are hot as hell if you ask me). They were verbally harassed to a harsh extent, enough that my boss (Mr. Dong) felt ashamed on behalf of the university.
The event really brings to light the awkwardness of these trees. I guess I'd never really thought about the context that much... I mean they're so beautiful, people pay to get into the university to visit them. The university advertises them in their brochures and website. And yet, they can be seen as a symbol for a very dark period in China's history, one which has certainly not been forgotten. Many older Chinese people still feel a strong bitterness towards the Japanese, and the relationship is certainly awkward to say the least.
Mr. Dong tried to explain the situation to me. He read an article which wondered if the students took it one step further. These trees, like Kimonos, symbolize Japan. So the article raised the issue: if it's ok to harass people wearing Kimono's, it suggests that what has happened in the past between Japan and China should be eschewed, in which case the cherry blossoms should be cut down from the campus. Although the trees serve as a beautiful, although disturbing, reminder of what occured, I'm sure most people agree that what happened should not be forgotten, and that their patriotism can be more displayed in more respectful ways. After all, that's what the article told them to think... :)