In a century-old act of friendship that forever enriched the nation’s capital with sakura (cherry blossoms), the city of Tokyo gave 3,000 cherry trees to Washington, D.C., in 1912. Springtime viewing of the blooming trees that ring the Tidal Basin quickly became a cherished tradition and a signature cultural event in the United States capital. Today, the National Cherry Blossom Festival draws more than one million visitors annually from the United States and abroad.
The Library of Congress collections illuminate the story of these landmark trees, the historical significance of cherry blossoms in Japan, and their continuing resonance in American culture and for Washingtonians in particular. The exhibition features watercolor drawings of blossom varieties among the original trees, Japanese color woodblock prints and books, and an array of photographs as well as editorial cartoons, posters, and other printed ephemera.
This exhibition coincides with the city-wide centennial celebration of the 1912 gift. It offers an opportunity to deepen understanding of Japanese culture while celebrating the Washington cherry blossoms as symbols of the enduring friendship between the people of Japan and the United States.