Welcome to Naoko Abe's Homepage

After winning the prestigious Nihon Essayist Club Award in Japan in June 2016, Naoko Abe's book 'Cherry' Ingram: The Englishman Who Saved Japan's Blossoms was published in the UK on 21 March 2019. The US version, The Sakura Obsession, was released a few days later. The book was selected as The BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week from March 18th - 22nd and has received global recognition from The Economist, The Spectator, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and many more.


Events Calendar

View all of Naoko's events here




 < Latest News>



Naoko planted a young cherry tree, a variety called Collingwood Ingram', at Pembroke Lodge at RIchmond Park.


 ---- Naoko is a member of the  'Sakura Cherry Tree Project Committee' which is a group of Japanese residents in the UK, giving more than 5,000 cherry trees to the Brisith people.  80 sites throughout the UK will receive  the trees this year and next year. 


Richmond Park is one of the 80 sites and on April 30,  the Royal Parks invited the comittee members to the Park.


Earlier on the day, Richmond Park had planted some young '|Collingwood Intgram' trees next to the Lodge in an avenue, but they very kindly left one last tree for Naoko to plant....in celebration of the publication of  'Cherry' Ingram  book. It was a surprise!


This event marked the beginning of the cherry tree planting at the park.



2019.4.30 cherry planting at Richmond Park 2

Naoko planting the 'Collingwood Ingram'. This variety was developped in Belgium and named after Collingwood 'Cherry' Ingram.


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The Comittee members with Simon Richards, the head of Richmond Park, second from the right.  Left to Naoko is Sandy Sano, the head of the Committee.









Naoko Abe has toured in the US in April 2019



Naoko talked to an audience of about 80 pople titled 'Cherry Blossom Odyssey'  at the Japan Foundation in Los Angeles on  April 18.


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She also talked to a small group of people at a Japanese garden in Glandale on April 21.



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                                      It was a very relaxed meeting on Easter Sunday afternoon.   




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                              The teahouse was a beautiful Japanese house recently renovated by the Japan Foundation.





Naoko was interviewed by Ira Flatow of NPR (National Public Radio) on April 12 in New York for the 'Science Friday' show.


NPR show with Ira Flatow

                                               With Ira Flatow in the NPR studion in New York.

            Here is a link to the interview and an excerpt from the book








Okame at Brooklyn Garden  



                 Okame at B.Botanical Garden


Okame cherry was in full blossom in Brooklyn Botanic Garden. This is a variety C. Ingram created 




 Brooklyin Botanical Garden

                                   'The Sakura Obsession' on disply at Brooklyn Botanic Garden



Naoko gave a talk at the US National Arboretum in Washington DC on April 15.


Talk at National Arboretum 4.15.2019 2                       

                                Naoko talked to about 50 people--the arboretum staff and others from the US Library of Congress and the Smithsonian.






☆Events ☆ 

Naoko will be giving a talk ' Cherry Blossom Odyssey'  at the Japan Fondation LA on April 18 at 7pm.



She will also give a lecture in Glendale, CA on Easter Sunday.  click here for details





To celebrate the publication of 'Cherry' Ingram, a book launch party was held at London Review Bookshop in Bloomsbury, London on March 26th.


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                                          'Cherry' Ingram books  at the launch.



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           Naoko gave a speech."This book came into the world with so many people's support", she said.



                                                 Launch crowd 2

                                                          Over 100 people attended the launch.



 Another  book launch event was held at The Daiwa Foundation in London on 22 March.


Daiwa speeech



                                                       Daiwa speech4


     Naoko spoke to a sold-out crowd of 140 guests about Ingram's life.

 Photos provided by the Daiwa Foundation.




The 'Cherry' Ingram book has been chosen as 

BBC Radio 4 'Book of the Week'!


           18th -22nd March 2019  at 9:45-10 am.







The 'Cherry' Ingram book is published on 21 March.






--The British publisher,Chatto & windus, is now taking pre-orders.





The Sakura Obsession


--The American version has a different title: The Sakura Obsession  (by Knopt)










Naoko gave a lecture to a sold-out Japan Society audience on 16th April, 2018, about Collingwood Ingram. The event was held at the Swedenborg Society in London. Click here for more details. 


Naoko talked about how Collingwood Ingram fell in love with Japanese cherry blossoms and went to Japan at the beginning of the 20th century to collect different varieties. Ingram's cherry collection in his garden in Benenden, Kent, was the world's largest at the time. Naoko also discussed the history of cherry blossoms in Japan and how the blossoms were used ideologically by the military government in the 1930s and during World War II. 


Thirty-two members of the Ingram family, mostly grandchildren and great grandchildren of Collingwood Ingram and his older brother, Herbert, attended the lecture. 





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                  Naoko shows a slide of The Grange,  the former residence of Collingwood  Ingram in Benenden, Kent





 The Ingrams and Naoko 16.04.2018

                                              Naoko and the members of the Ingram family after the lecture.








 ‘Cherry Ingram’ will be published in English!


After winning the prestigious Nihon Essayist Club Award in Japan in June 2016, Naoko Abe's book 'Cherry' Ingram: The English Saviour of Japan's Cherry Blossoms, will now be  published in English. 

The English version will be an adaptation of the original book, including a lot of new material.  It will be published by Chatto and Windus, an English  imprint of Penguin Random House, in spring 2019. 

It will also be translated into German, Italian, Spanish and Polish.

The original  "'Cherry' Ingram: The English Saviour of Japan’s Cherry Blossoms", was published in Japanese in March 2016, by Iwanami Shoten, one of Japan's largest and most respected publishers.  

It won  the Nihon Essayist Club Award, a major non-fiction award in Japan.

---The award ceremony was held on 29 June, 2016 at the Japan Press Centre in Tokyo.




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Naoko Abe gave a speech about  'Cherry Ingram'  at the Japan National Press Club on 28 June 2016.





                        You can watch and listen to the speech on You Tube     → click here                    

                                                                  (The speech is in Japanese) 




•  The first edition of  'Cherry Ingram' has sold out and the second is now on sale.



•  'Cherry Ingram' was broadcast in Japan.

NHK, the Japanese equivalent of the BBC,  aired Naoko's book 'Cherry Ingram ' as well as Ingram's former home in Benenden, Kent and  the Taihaku cherry in full blossom  on 11 May on their BS1 channel in the programme  'Overseas report 2016'.  The Taihaku shown is the original cherry that Ingram returned  to Japan in the 1930s....   link



Naoko Abe tells the story of a self-educated Englishman whose passion for the Japanese cherry blossom saved hundreds of unique and rare varieties of this iconic flower from extinction. Based on 'Cherry' Ingram's diaries, original documents and scores of interviews, the book follows the life of a plant hunter extraordinaire and the enormous impact that his pioneering work has had on cherry blossom cultures around the world.

Collingwood Ingram also known as 'Cherry Ingram'

Naoko Abe takes the reader from Ingram's first sojourn in Japan in 1902 to an historic speech in Tokyo in 1926 exorting Japanese royalty and industry leaders to save the dying blossoms at a time of rapid modernization and westernization. Her environmental detective story describes for the first time how the blossoms survived and examines the flowers' political and cultural heritage throughout the 20th century, including their role in Japanese militarism during World War II, and the evolution of a cloned cherry that's become the global symbol of modern Japan.


Extracts from 5 reviews


(Naoko Abe's) non-fiction book depicts an Englishman who loved cherry blossoms more than we Japanese -- and gave us a stark warning (about their uncertain future). We can only appreciate the ‘Taihaku' -- the Great White cherry’ -- these days thanks to Collingwood Ingram. --- The Mainichi Shimbun (download)


This great work puts the life of the cherry saviour Collingwood Ingram into perspective。It uncovers historic facts about how modernization affected Japan and how distorted and controlled views about the ‘sakura’ were imposed on the Japanese during the war. ---  The Tokyo Shimbun (download)


A formidable book, extraordinarily well-researched, with a thick philosophical backbone that sends a powerful message ----Natsuki Ikezawa, The Shukan Bunshun (download) 


An outstanding non-fiction book that depicts the history spanning more than 100 years of sakura keepers who devoted their lives to preserving cherry blossoms in Japan and beyond --- Mr. Partner magazine (download)


Ms. Abe highlights the lament of Japan's most distinguished 'sakuramori' ('cherry blossom keeper') when he met 'Cherry' Ingram in Tokyo in 1926: "This is the cherry tree my great grandfather painted more than 130 years ago. This most beautiful variety seems to have gone extinct. I can’t find it anywhere".  --- The Asahi Shimbun (download)


 The British newspaper 'Courier' wrote about  'Cherry Ingram'  on Friday 20 May .

   ' Famous  Oriental blooms stem from Sussex survivor'

As the year's cherry blossom season in Japan flutters to an end, the story of the  Benenden expert whose passion for the flowers saved hundreds of varieties from  extinction....link




                            ......  continue to