The following is a guest post by Mari Nakahara, Curator of Architecture, Design, and Engineering, and Katherine Blood, Curator of Fine Prints, Prints & Photographs Division.
The year 2022 marks the 110th anniversary of the gift of 3,000 cherry trees from the city of Tokyo to Washington, D.C. in 1912, an enduring symbol of the U.S.-Japan friendship. Springtime viewing of the blooming cherry blossom trees has become a cherished tradition and a signature cultural event in the United States capital.
As featured in the book, “Cherry Blossoms: Sakura Collections from the Library of Congress,” the Library’s extensive, multidisciplinary collections allow a unique exploration of the history, significance, and legacy of the cherry trees. Join the book’s co-authors for a series of three evening virtual presentations on Wednesday through Friday, April 6-8, 7 to 8 p.m. (EDT) to see the Library’s rich and growing collections. (See details at the bottom of the post.)
April 6: Exploring Cherry Blossom Varieties with Mari Nakahara
Appreciation and popularity of cherry blossoms have been growing. There are increasingly opportunities to enjoy cherry trees at multiple locations, even on neighbors’ sidewalks each spring. That said, how much is commonly known about cherry blossoms? What can we notice by looking closely? How many cherry blossom varieties can we find in our neighborhoods? How do we describe their colors? Let’s explore exquisite watercolors by Kōkichi Tsunoi that accurately illustrate the eleven varieties of the gift trees, with a goal of increasing our visual recognition of cherry blossom types. (Registration information at the bottom of the post.)April 7: One Man’s Life Dedicated to Peace with Mari Nakahara
If the 1912 gift of cherry blossom trees is viewed as a living symbol of the U.S.–Japan friendship, then Hirosi Saito, Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. during the crucial pre-war years from 1934 to 1938, is remembered for his commitment to peace. He was also a living witness to the 1912 gift, when his diplomatic career in Washington was just beginning. President Roosevelt expressed special gratitude for Saito’s contributions, arranging for the U.S. Navy cruiser Astoria to return Saito’s ashes to Japan after his death in 1939 at the age of 52. (Registration information at the bottom of the post.)
April 8: Seasonal Appreciations in Japanese Visual Art with Katherine Blood
In Japanese art and culture, the four seasons are celebrated through the thoughtful appreciation of such natural phenomena as springtime cherry blossoms, summer fireflies, bright autumn foliage, winter snow, and more. From an 18th century cherry blossom hanami party to a contemporary artist’s illustration of Tanabata star festival wishes, examples range from jewel-toned Edo period (1603-1868) woodblock prints to contemporary artist prints, posters, and drawings, by both Japanese and American creators. (Registration information at the bottom of the post.)
April 6: Exploring Cherry Blossom Varieties
April 7: One Man’s Life Dedicated to Peace
April 8: Seasonal Appreciations in Japanese Visual Art
- Read Cherry Blossoms: Sakura Collections from the Library of Congress.
- Watch brief videos from the “Cherry Blossom Viewing Over the Centuries” series.
- Explore the “Sakura: Cherry Blossoms as Living Symbols of Friendship” online exhibition.
- Enjoy a virtual tour of the exhibition gallery Sakura: Cherry Blossoms as a Living Symbol of Friendship with Mari Nakahara and Katherine Blood.
- View images from the Prints & Photographs Division’s Japanese woodblock collection.