Spring Fling at the Library

Spring in Washington, D.C., is marked by changing weather, gardens coming back to life and of course, cherry blossoms. The famous cherry blossom trees surrounding the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial, a gift from Japan more than a century ago, are nearing peak bloom which also means peak volume of visitors to view them! To celebrate the change of seasons, the Library of Congress is hosting a new pop-up exhibit and series of activities collectively referred to as Spring Fling, starting this Friday, April 6.

Open to the public, the event includes exhibitions of drawings, photographs, books, maps, poetry and music from the Library’s collections related to weather and the seasons, gardens and botany, and of course those beautiful cherry blossoms of the nation’s capital. We hope you can join us at the Library of Congress and enjoy these treasures and the related activities in person! However, if you can’t make the trip, take a tour of Prints and Photographs Division collection items from the display, related to the history of enjoying cherry blossoms in Japan as well as here in Washington, D.C., below.

The 18th- and 19th-century Japanese color woodcut prints below celebrate blossom watching in Japan. And a 1921 watercolor (below right) celebrates the beauty of the blossoms themselves, as one variety of the short-lived blooms is delicately captured on paper.

<em>Sumida tsutsumi hanami no zu</em>. (Translation: Viewing cherry blossoms along the Sumida River.) Color woodcut by //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/jpd.00501

Sumida tsutsumi hanami no zu. (Translation: Viewing cherry blossoms along the Sumida River.) Color woodcut by Hiroshige Andō, between 1848 and 1854. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/jpd.00501

 

Yayoi asukayama hanami. Color woodcut by Shigemasa Kitao, between 1772 and 1776. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/jpd.02258

Yayoi asukayama hanami. Color woodcut by Shigemasa Kitao, between 1772 and 1776. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/jpd.02258

Kwan-zan (Barrier Mountain). Watercolor drawing by K. Tsunoi, 1921. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppss.00845

Kwan-zan (Barrier Mountain). Watercolor drawing by K. Tsunoi, 1921. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppss.00845

The springtime ritual of going to see the cherry blossoms for D.C. area residents and visitors goes back decades. The tradition of crowning a Cherry Blossom Queen (and having a court of princesses) as part of the Cherry Blossom Festival continues to this day, and here we have the 1937 honoree, Sakiko Saito, receiving her crown.

Crowned Queen of Cherry Blossoms. Washington, D.C., April 8. A colorful ceremony which attracted thousands of visitors to the Capital, little Sakiko Saito, daughter of the Japanese Ambassador and Mme. Saito, was crowned Queen of the Cherry Blossoms by Melvin Hazen, Commissioner of the District of Columbia. The festival was held to celebrate the anniversary of the presentation of the Japanese cherry trees to the capital by the citizens of Tokio, Japan during the Taft Administration. With the Queen as shown her two attendants Masako Saito, also a daughter of the Japanese Amabassador, and Barbara Caldwell, American playmate of the two youngsters, 4/8/1937. Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1937 April 8. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hec.22528

Crowned Queen of Cherry Blossoms. Washington, D.C., April 8. A colorful ceremony which attracted thousands of visitors to the Capital, little Sakiko Saito, daughter of the Japanese Ambassador and Mme. Saito, was crowned Queen of the Cherry Blossoms by Melvin Hazen, Commissioner of the District of Columbia. The festival was held to celebrate the anniversary of the presentation of the Japanese cherry trees to the capital by the citizens of Tokio, Japan during the Taft Administration. With the Queen as shown her two attendants Masako Saito, also a daughter of the Japanese Amabassador, and Barbara Caldwell, American playmate of the two youngsters, 4/8/1937. Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1937 April 8. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hec.22528

With the Jefferson Memorial still under construction, the 1941 visitors depicted below find two ways to rest their tired feet – a boat ride and a bench!

Around the Tidal Basin for a look at the cherry blossoms. Washington, D.C. Photo by Martha McMillan Roberts, 1941 May. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b15084

Around the Tidal Basin for a look at the cherry blossoms. Washington, D.C. Photo by Martha McMillan Roberts, 1941 May. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b15084

 

Resting between scenes. Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C. Photo by Martha McMillan Roberts, 1941 May. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b31126

Resting between scenes. Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C. Photo by Martha McMillan Roberts, 1941 May. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b31126

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial welcomes visitors as the third memorial around the Tidal Basin, along with the Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorials. This 2000 illustration captures the sight in bright sunny springtime, complete with cherry blossoms.

[Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial, Washington, D.C. The promissory note]. Drawing by Christopher Grubbs, October 2000. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.41002

[Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial, Washington, D.C. The promissory note]. Drawing by Christopher Grubbs, October 2000. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.41002

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