Party Diary: The Japanese embassy hosts annual cherry blossom party

Showing up fashionably late and flowers just don’t mix. The annual cherry blossom party at the Japanese ambassador’s residence has become such a wildly popular event that by 6:45 p.m. — just 15 minutes after the reception was scheduled to start — there was only street parking available, according to our colleague Frances Sellers.

Recognizing the popularity of the event, Japan’s affable ambassador Kenichiro Sasae pushed for more recognition of his country’s cultural significance in the District by painting the nation’s capital a friendly fuschia. He suggested a floodlit pink Washington monument, pink Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, a pink Supreme Court and a pink Capitol.

Every year at the party each U.S. state (plus D.C., of course) can choose a “cherry blossom princess.” Several embassies, including Lithuania, Slovenia, Thailand and France, also have princesses. Victoria Hartmann is D.C.’s 2013 princess. She has been to Japan twice — probably more than most of the princesses, she thinks.

“Since 1973, the National Conference of State Societies-sponsored U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen has been officially invited, by the Japan Cherry Blossom Association to visit Japan in May,” according to the NCSS website.

One lucky princess will be crowned Cherry Blossom Queen at the Official Cherry Blossom Grand Ball at the Renaissance Hotel in Chinatown on Friday night. The queen is chosen by the spin of a wheel. She’ll succeed the current queen (from Oklahoma) and visit Japan in May.

So many princesses and no princes?

Well, no. But there are male goodwill ambassadors who are chosen because of their ability to speak Japanese and understand Japanese culture to attend the week’s cherry blossom events. They will also head to Japan this summer.

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Helena Andrews is the co-author of The Reliable Source. Follow her on Twitter @helena_andrews, and send your hot tips, sightings, and gossip to reliablesource@washpost.com.
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