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The History of Cherry Blossom Festival

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The History of Cherry Blossom Festival

No other city welcomes the arrival of spring like Washington, D.C. The historic Tidal Basin in the city is bedecked with attractive hues of pink, as the appealing cherry blossoms carpet the landscape with a stunning spectacle to usher in the pleasant spring season. If you happen to take a Washington, D.C tour during springtime, you will be tempted to attend the interesting array of events that are conducted to commemorate the Cherry Blossom Festival held between March 27 and April 11. The 2010 Cherry Blossom Festival marked the 98th celebration that ushered in spring with a unique aplomb! What is the history behind this popular festival and why is the capital a home to these cherry trees that flower into the most beautiful cherry blossoms that completely transform the landscape of the Tidal Basin?  

In 1912, the then mayor of Tokyo - Yukio Ozaki gifted 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington, to honor the friendship between Japan and United States. A simple ceremony to celebrate the lasting relationship between the two cultures was conducted, in which the first two trees from Japan were planted on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park. This generous act was reciprocated by the United States Government by presenting flowering dogwood trees, the state flower of Virginia, to the people of Japan before the first official cherry blossom festival was held in 1935.

Thirty years later, First Lady Lady Bird Johnson accepted 3,800 more trees, and in 1981, cuttings from the cherry trees in Washington were given to the Japanese to replace trees destroyed in a flood. The Japanese Cherry Blossom festival was expanded in 1994 to two weeks to accommodate events that herald the beginning of spring. It’s amazing how a memoir of an act of friendship that was initiated almost one hundred years ago attracts more than a million people plan a Washington, D.C. tour every year to admire the blossoming cherry trees.

To appreciate the beauty of the cherry blossoms in their full bloom and be a part of the festival that not only reveres the natural allure of the spring season, but also rejoices a lasting friendship between two countries, plan a tour to Washington, D.C., in the springtime!

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