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In Full Bloom: Celebrating 100 Years of Cherry Blossoms in D.C.

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One hundred years ago, the city of Tokyo sent Washington, D.C. a gift of friendship that continues to bloom today. Quite literally, in fact!

Three thousand flowering cherry trees arrived in D.C. in 1912, and started what has become an annual spring tradition for residents of the D.C. area and thousands of tourists: going to see the cherry blossoms. During their peak bloom time, the trees circling the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial and leading toward the Washington Monument are transformed. The clouds of pink and white blossoms hover above and surround all who come to see them, enchanting young and old.

Washington Monument, Washington, D.C. Photo by Carol Highsmith, April 2007.
Hanami-zuki (Cherry blossom viewing month). Color woodblock print by Torii Kiyonaga, between 1785 and 1789.

To mark the centennial of this gift from the Japanese people, the Library of Congress is hosting an exhibition: Sakura: Cherry Blossoms as Living Symbols of Friendship, with works from both the Prints & Photographs Division and the Asian Division on display from today, March 20, until September 15, 2012.  Talks and tours will also be offered in conjunction with the exhibit. The events mark not just one hundred years of springtime blooming in D.C., but also seek to offer an understanding of Japanese culture and life – and the place these blossoms hold in it.

A variety of items are included in the exhibit, ranging from Japanese woodblock prints to photographs and from editorial cartoons to posters.


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