March 10, 2009 Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney to Lecture on Cherry Blossom Symbolism on April 2 at Library of Congress

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Robert Saladini (202) 707-2692

Just as cherry-blossom time comes to Washington, D.C., the Library of Congress will present a lecture on the symbolism of this cherished flower in Japanese culture and history.

Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, holder of the John W. Kluge Center Chair of Modern Culture at the Library, will discuss “Blooming Cherry Blossoms, Falling Cherry Blossoms: Symbolism of the Flower in Japanese Culture and History” at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, in Room 119 on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by the Kluge Center, the program is free and open to the public. No tickets or reservations are needed.

The cherry blossom, Japan’s national flower, has been cherished by the Japanese people from ancient times to the present. In her illustrated lecture, Ohnuki-Tierney will discuss the flower in some if its various symbolic manifestations, from the procreative power of young women to the militaristic representation of men as warriors, who were in times past commanded to “fall like beautiful cherry petals after a short life,” as exemplified by the kamikaze suicide aviators of World War II.

Ohnuki-Tierney is the William F. Vilas Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where her research focuses on various symbols of Japanese identity. Her books include “Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers” (2006); “Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History” (2002); “Rice as Self: Japanese Identities through Time” (1993); and “The Monkey as Mirror: Symbolic Transformations in Japanese History and Ritual” (1989).

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit


PR 09-045
ISSN 0731-3527