National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C.
Photograph by Stefan Zaklin, EPA/CorbisBlooming pink and white blossoms have heralded spring's arrival in the nation's capital since 1912 when the people of Tokyo gifted Washington, D.C., with 3,000 ornamental cherry trees. The living gift spawned the nation’s signature springtime celebration, extended to five weeks (March 20 to April 27) for the 2012 centennial edition. Daily events pay tribute to the relationship between the United States and Japan. While some—like the high-energy National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on Saturday, April 14—are date-specific, many extend through summer.
The National Geographic Museum’s "Samurai: The Warrior Transformed" exhibition, March 7 to September 3, explores the history of the samurai military tradition and includes artifacts such as a suit of armor presented to President Theodore Roosevelt. Also on display is the early 20th-century hand-tinted photographs of Japan taken by Eliza Scidmore, the first woman to serve on the National Geographic Board. Scidmore played an integral role in bringing the cherry blossoms to Washington.
The free Library of Congress exhibition, "Sakura: Cherry Blossoms as Living Symbols of Friendship," illuminates the story of the landmark trees through watercolor drawings, Japanese color woodblock prints and books, and photographs.
During the festival, take the U.S. National Arboretum’s self-guided “Beyond the Tidal Basin” tour to learn about ongoing efforts to preserve the District’s blooming cultural ambassadors.
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