Every year around springtime, The National Cherry Blossom Festival holds a ceremony to celebrate the ties between American and Japanese Culture. Over a century ago (1912), Helen Herron Taft, first lady to former President William Howard Taft, and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, collaboratively planted the first two cherry trees on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park. A gift from Tokyo Mayor, Yukio Ozaki, the trees were given in hopes of building a stronger, friendlier relationship between the two countries. Three years later, the United States responded eloquently with a gift of flowering dogwood trees.
19th century imperialism called for great tensions amongst some of the great powers of the world, including Japan, Russia, United States, and Germany. Prior, Japan promoted a policy of strict isolation, which lasted over 200 years. This however, failed to last as Commodore Matthew Perry of the U.S. along with other subsequent naval leaders, urged Japan to reconsider and open trade relations with the west. Consequently, the Treaty of Peace and Amity was signed (March 31, 1854) leaving room for political unrest, as most Japanese intellectuals believed it to be forced through Perry's somewhat aggressive ways, or what can be commonly known as gunboat diplomacy.
Troubled by the unwanted influence of American culture, Japan held a sense of resentment; in order to sustain positive affiliation, the Cherry Tree/Flowering Dogwood tree effort proved supportive until it was later hindered by World War II. However, The Cherry Blossom festival later resumed (1947), reminding the two nations of a continuing effort of union without hostility. In 1965, 3,800 trees were acknowledged by First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, ensuring an optimistic outlook for the two nations. With the flooding and destruction of Yoshino Cherry Trees in Japan (1981), horticulturalists replaced them with cuttings from the same trees presented in Washington, D.C., further demonstrating the trees as an agent of friendship.
The 2013 National Blossom Festival will be held between March 20th and April 14th to commemorate 101 years of commitment to an ever growing amity between Japan and the U.S.
Have You Ever Picked a Cherry Blossom?
How to Make an Origami Cherry Blossom: Come to the Crime Museum lobby on the following days to learn how to make Origami Cherry Blossoms! No reservation or ticket is required.
Friday, March 29, 2013 - 11am
Sunday, March 31, 2013 - 11am
Friday, April 5, 2013 - 11am
Sunday, April 7, 2013 - 11am
Friday, April 12, 2013 - 11am
Sunday, April 14, 2013 - 11am
Make a Difference
Become an Investigator
Visit our Crime Library
Join our Blog
Purchase Museum Tickets