Cherry Blossom Trees

The History of Cherry Trees in Washington DC

Whether you’re a DC native or just visiting, you’ve undoubtedly seen the iconic cherry trees that line the Tidal Basin. In fact, we have The Cherry Blossom Festival as an annual tradition that attracts visitors from around the world to celebrate and enjoy the beauty of these trees. But did you know that this city’s love affair with cherry trees goes back over 100 years?

The planting of cherry trees in our nation’s capital started as a gift of n from Japan in 1912 when the mayor of Tokyo gave 3,000 saplings to the city. This gift was meant as an expression of gratitude for America’s help after the earthquake and tsunami of 1911 destroyed much of Tokyo’s harbor area killing 30,000 people including Emperor Meiji who had been visiting at the time.

The cherry blossoms are an important part of Japanese culture. They represent the beauty and fragility of life as well as the transience of youth. The blossom is also a symbol of love, hope and friendship – a cherry blossom tree can be seen in many Japanese artworks, such as traditional woodblock prints (ukiyo-e).

The gifted trees were planted along the Potomac Riverbank. The planting was an expression of friendship between Japan and America at a time when there were many tensions between them as the Russo-Japanese War had ended just three years earlier.

The cherry trees have become a symbol of friendship between the United States and Japan. Each year, thousands of people visit DC to see the beautiful cherry blossoms. In addition to the Tidal Basin, there are also many places in Washington DC where cherry trees can be found (such as Rock Creek Park).

In 1999, First Lady Hillary Clinton launched The National Cherry Blossom Festival to commemorate the historical friendship between America and Japan showcasing our capital city’s beauty.  It was also meant to  celebrate springtime and encourage people to participate in a public awareness campaign about American’s ongoing commitment to peace through strength.

The cherry trees are an iconic symbol of Washington DC. They are beautiful and we give gratitude to Japan for their generosity in sharing these colorful trees with us. They represent the spirit of friendship and peace, which is so important in today’s world. As we celebrate the centennial of this gift, let us reflect on what it means for our future together as global citizens who share a planet that needs care and protection from all who live here.

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