February 8, 2012 "Sakura: Cherry Blossoms as Living Symbols of Friendship" Exhibition at Library of Congress

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Katherine Blood (202) 707-4622 | Mari Nakahara (202) 707-2990
Contact: View the exhibition online.

In 1912 the city of Tokyo gave Washington, D.C., a gift of 3,000 flowering cherry trees (“sakura” in Japanese), as a symbol of enduring friendship between Japan and the United States. Despite a war, the friendship has prevailed, and the trees every spring have bestowed upon the U.S. capital a graceful beauty and a time-honored tradition of gathering and admiring the pink blossoms.

The Library of Congress will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the gift with an exhibition titled “Sakura: Cherry Blossoms as Living Symbols of Friendship,” opening on Tuesday, March 20, in the Graphic Arts Galleries on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The exhibition, which runs through Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, is free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For a listing of a series of events related to the exhibition, visit this page.

On display will be 54 items from the Library of Congress collections, illuminating 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.

Selections include multiple watercolor drawings of blossom varieties among the original trees by K. Tsunoi from 1918 to 1921; Japanese woodblock prints, featuring landscape scenes of blossoming cherry trees; Japanese books; and an array of photographs, posters, editorial cartoons, postcards and other printed ephemera. Among the cartoons are Clifford Berryman’s 1934 “Cherry Blossom Time in Washington,” which depicts Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the New Deal king, and a 1939 Herblock drawing about an approaching world war.

The exhibition offers an opportunity to deepen understanding of Japanese cultural, intellectual and social life. Sakura are widely celebrated in Japanese literature, poetry and art; the word carries a spiritual meaning. The sublime beauty of the flowers and their brief blooming at the beginning of each spring symbolize, in the Japanese culture, the short duration of human life.

The items on view are drawn primarily from the collections in the Prints and Photographs Division and the Japanese collection in the Asian Division.

The Prints and Photographs Division includes approximately 14.4 million photographs, drawings and prints from the 15th century to the present day. International in scope, these visual collections represent a uniquely rich array of human experience, knowledge, creativity and achievement, touching on almost every realm of endeavor: science, art, invention, government and political struggle, and the recording of history. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/print/.

The Asian Division holds more than 3 million books, periodicals, newspapers, electronic media and a large number of manuscripts from Asia. The collection is the most comprehensive source of Asian-language materials outside of Asia, and covers the area ranging from Japan, China, Korea, Mongolia and the South Asian subcontinent to Southeast Asia. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/asian/.

Representatives of the media can access downloadable images from the exhibit by visiting the online pressroom and selecting the “Sakura: Cherry Blossoms as Living Symbols of Friendship” press kit: www.loc.gov/pressroom/.


PR 12-028
ISSN 0731-3527