History of the Cherry Blossom Tree

by Details Flowers ● 30 March ● News & Events

In honor of us traveling to Washington, DC for the 42nd Annual Congressional Action Days, we thought it would be fun to learn the history of one of Washington's iconic features, the Cherry Blossom Tree!

Sakura, or cherry blossoms, are well-known worldwide for their bright, fragile, and momentary beauty. Cherry Blossoms are more than just pretty trees; they have deep roots in Japan's history, culture, and identity. The blossoms, which were once used to predict the year's harvest, have now come to symbolize Wabi-sabi philosophy and Shinto principles of impermanence, optimism, and renewal and have become one of Japan's most recognizable natural motifs.


The cherry blossom trees represent human life, fragility, and nobility in Japan. During the brief blossoming season, the Japanese love to enjoy and adore the cherry blossom trees, and many people arrange hanami (flower gazing) gatherings during their one-week peak bloom. 

Cherry Blossom trees were first planted in Washington, DC, in 1912 as a gift of friendship from the people of Japan to the people of the United States. Three thousand twenty trees were planted, comprising of 12 varieties! In 1915, President Taft sent a gift of flowering dogwood trees to the people of Japan as a thank you for the cherry trees.


In 1935, The initial "Cherry Blossom Festival" was jointly sponsored by several civic organizations, and it grew into an annual event in future years. March 30, 1954, Sadao Iguchi, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, presented the City of Washington with a 300-year-old Japanese Stone Lantern. The lantern is one of two; the other can be found at Tokyo's Ueno Park. The granite Japanese Stone Lantern stands eight feet tall and weighs around two tons. The lantern's lighting marks the start of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Throughout the years, propagation of the original trees gifted in 1912 has successfully preserved the genetic lineage. 


To visit the Cherry Blossom Trees in Washington, DC, you have to plan your trip accordingly! Around April 4 is the normal peak bloom day, when 70 percent of the cherry blossom trees' blossoms are open. Peak bloom has occurred as early as March 15 and as late as April 18 in the past. The entire blooming period, including the days leading up to peak bloom, can last 14 days. 


The Cherry Blossom Trees are indeed a sight to behold! Make sure to plan your next trip to visit the beautiful blooms. The 2022 Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC will be held from March 20th-April 17th.  "The 2022 Festival is the 110th anniversary of the gift of trees from the Mayor of Tokyo to Washington, DC. The Signature Events you know and love are back in person, along with a wide variety of ways to experience Washington, DC as you can only see it once a year. And if this is your first time at the Festival, this is the year to see it! Stay at partner hotels, dine at Cherry Picks restaurants, and check out Petal Porches and Art in Bloom installations across the city and surrounding areas. Here are a few upcoming events to celebrate the festival:

  • Parade: Saturday, April 9, 2022
  • Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival: Saturday, April 9 – Sunday, April 10, 2022
  • PetalPalooza: Saturday, April 16, 2022

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