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The Beauty of Enduring Friendship: Cherry Blossoms

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K. Tsunoi, possibly Kōkichi Tsunoi (fl. 1892–1921). Fukurokuju. Watercolor, 19
Fukurokuju. Watercolor by K. Tsunoi , 1921. Japanese Collection, Asian Division.

The following is a guest post by Helena Zinkham, Chief, Prints & Photographs Division.

How do the delicate blossoms of a cherry tree represent the strength found in friendship? A new video from the Library of Congress suggests many answers in an engaging gallery tour of the exhibition Sakura: Cherry Blossoms as Living Symbols of Friendship.

As the exhibition team takes you through the show, an early highlight is a remarkable set of original watercolors that reveal the wonderful varieties of sakura (cherry blossoms) in great detail.

Kitao Shigemasa (1739–1820). Yayoi or Sangatsu, Asukayama Hanami (Third Lunar Month, Blossom Viewing at Asuka Hill), from the series Jūnikagetsu (Twelve Months), between 1772 and 1776. Color woodblock print.
Yayoi or Sangatsu, Asukayama Hanami (Third Lunar Month, Blossom Viewing at Asuka Hill), from the series Jūnikagetsu (Twelve Months). Color woodblock print by Kitao Shigemasa, between 1772 and 1776.  Prints and Photographs Division.

Historical Japanese prints portray the long tradition of hanami—going to view the blooming trees. Images in posters, books, and historical as well as contemporary photographs confirm how sakura are a treasured sign of spring for many people.

Personal memories from a Japanese childhood and a cherry blossom princess are also featured.

This exhibition was held in 2012, when the Library participated in the celebration of the 100th anniversary for a magnificent gift of cherry trees from the city of Tokyo to Washington, D.C. The glorious sight of sakura around Washington’s Tidal Basin continues to draw thousands of people together each year.

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