Every year over 1.5 million visitors flock to Washington, D.C. to see the iconic cherry blossoms. These blossoms and the cherry trees on which they bloom were originally a gift from Japan to the United States of America in 1912.
The gift of these trees and their little flowers was just the first chapter of a much bigger story. In the 107 years since their planting an entire festival has flourished around the pink and white blossoms at the Tidal Basin. Spring in Washington, D.C. has a month-long celebration of the enduring Japan-U.S. friendship. The National Cherry Blossom Festival allows both residents and tourists alike to sample a host of Japanese food, performances, traditions and culture.
The year 2019 will certainly be another exciting tale in the long history of the cherry blossoms, and it will be an especially exciting year for Japan. In 2019 Japan turns the page from a period of recovery, and looks towards a period of hope, international prominence and growth. In June, world leaders will gather in Osaka to discuss international economic cooperation at the G20. Leaders from African nations and international organizations will meet in Yokohama for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in August. Twenty countries will gather in September at stadiums across Japan in celebration of sport for the Rugby World Cup.
Most importantly, this year, for the first time in as long as 200 years, His Majesty the Emperor of Japan will abdicate and a new Emperor will take the throne. Each of these events brings Japan to the forefront of the world stage and allows the global community the chance to see firsthand that Japan, reinvigorated and revitalized, will continue to be one of the foremost open, democratic, and law-abiding contributors to peace and growth in the world.
With so many international events planned in 2019, it might be easy to forget that this is all a prelude to the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will showcase Japan’s technological advancements, bring many Americans to Japan for the first time and highlight the strong ties between Japanese and U.S. athletes.
Back in Washington, D.C., the celebration continues as the Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC) will present Indigo Threads: Weaving Japanese Craftsmanship & American Heritage. This exhibition and its surrounding events will follow the rich history of indigo dyed fabric and garments in Japan and how the passion for indigo blossomed into an appreciation and renewed love for denim that extends to the United States.
Also this year, for the first time, the National Cherry Blossom Festival will have a Grande Finale in the form of a concert by Mr. Ichiro Nodaira, a distinguished Japanese pianist and composer with over 80 original works. To celebrate the Festival’s contributions to Japan-U.S. friendship, Mr. Nodaira will perform both Japanese and American compositions, as well as pieces about spring.
So this spring, as millions of people from across the U.S. gather in the district to partake in the festivities surrounding the gift of cherry blossom trees, they also gather to celebrate this little flower with such a big story. A story of a lasting friendship and shared mutual values between two important partners: Japan and the United States.
This content was supplied by the Embassy of Japan and published by WP BrandStudio. The Washington Post newsroom was not involved in the creation of this content.