Cherry Blossom Festival – The Tradition Continues

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By Team Mangalorean, USA
Washington DC Cherry blossom Photographs By Roshan DSouza, USA
Tokyo Cherry blossom Photographs By Joyer Fernandes, Japan


The tidal basin in Washington DC turns colorful and gets ready to receive millions of visitors every year to celebrate the Cherry blossom festival.


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The two-week National Cherry Blossom Festival, the annual celebration of Japan’s gift of treasured cherry trees to Washington D.C, began here on Saturday, 31 March 2007 and will run until April 15. Cherry Blossom Festival has become Washington DC’s grand tourist event which draws more than 1 million visitors annually. Many programmes have been lined up this year including fireworks, musical shows, Japanese food festival, Photography competitions as well as the Parade.


Just like everything in this world has a history behind its existence, these Cherry trees and the festival also holds a significant historical touch.


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History of the Cherry Trees and Festival


The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC which annually serves as a memorial, was the gift to the city of Washington of 3,000 cherry trees from the Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to strengthen the friendship between the United States and Japan in 1912 and was celebrated to enhance the close relationship between the two countries.


On March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two of these trees on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park marking as a simple ceremony.  By 1915 the United States government had responded to the people of Japan with a gift of flowering dogwood trees. In 1927, a group of American school children reenacted the initial planting. The first festival was held in 1935, sponsored by civic groups in the nation’s capital.


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Cherry blossom Tokyo


Three thousand, eight hundred more trees were accepted in 1965 by First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson. Japanese horticulturalists came to take cuttings of the cherry trees from Washington DC area to replace Yoshino cherry trees in Japan which had been destroyed in a flood. Thus this return gift of trees again was marked as a symbol of friendship. The most recent event in this cycle occurred in the fall of 1999.  It involved the tree planting in the Tidal Basin of a new generation of cuttings from a famous Japanese cherry tree in Gifu province which was to be over 1500 years old.


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Cherry blossom Tokyo


The Different kinds of Cherry trees are:


Yoshino Cherry  – single, white flowers  
Kwazan Cherry – double, white flowers
Akebono Cherry – single pale pink flowers
Takesimensis Cherry – single double, white flowers
Usuzumi Cherry – single, white grey flowers
Weeping Japanese Cherry – single or double, white to pink flowers
Autumn Flowering Cherry – single or double, white to dark pink flowers
Sargent Cherry – single, deep pink flowers
Fugenzo Cherry – double, rose pink flowers 
Afterglow Cherry – single pink flowers
Shirofugen Cherry – double, white flowers
Okame Cherry – single or double, pink flowers


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In 1994 the Festival was expanded to two weeks to organize many activities during the blooming trees. Today the National Cherry Blossom Festival is coordinated by the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Inc. Over a million people visit Washington DC each year to admire the blossoming cherry trees and participate in the Festival that enhances the beginning of spring in the nation’s capital.


Parade of the National Cherry Blossom Festival


The Celebration of "Cherry Blossom festival" each year includes a parade and lots of activities.  This year Southwest Airlines is yet to present the 2007 Parade of the National Cherry Blossom Festival on Saturday, April 14th from 10am to noon.


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The Parade will be along Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Streets, NW.  Giant inflatable balloons, marching bands and performers will burst down Constitution Avenue in an energy-filled music and dance that is witnessed only once a year during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.


Parade Grand Attractions will be Mickey and Minnie Mouse!  Mickey and Minnie will be wearing Japanese attire and will lead this year?s parade.


To know more about Cherry Blossom Festival please visit: www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org


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Cherry blossom Tokyo

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