Cherry Blossom Festival Marks Centennial Event

The Washington Monument appears in the distance behind the array of gorgeous trees during the city’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
The Washington Monument appears in the distance behind the array of gorgeous trees during the city’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
Deborah Block

The centennial celebration of Washington’s cherry trees is in full bloom this week with Cherry Blossom Festival events well underway.

This year’s cherry blossoms provided a spectacular display.  Aarti Kabade is enjoying her first Cherry Blossom Festival with friends. “We're really enjoying it. We are loving it. And these are beautiful colors to see," she said.

This year's festival marks the 100th anniversary of the gift of the first trees by the mayor of Tokyo, as a token of friendship between Japan and the United States.  A few more than 100 of the original 3,000 trees survive. The rest have been replaced by the Japanese government or grown from the original trees’ genetic line.

Anne Ullberg came to the U.S. from France six years ago.  She says she is happy to see more Japanese tourists in Washington, one year after an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan's coast. “So I think this year is going to be more beautiful than ever, because some of them are able to come back now," she said.

The festival includes a wide range of events, many celebrating the culture of Japan.

Here at the National Building Museum in Washington, the Shizumi Kodomo Dance Troupe is performing.  The multicultural children’s group, based in Maryland, promotes dance as an international language.  It was started by dancer Shizumi Shigeto Manale, who combines Japanese movements with different types of American dance.  "Being in America, I want to be Americanized, and then I developed this fusion American-Japanese side," he said.

Other activities at the Building Museum include the opportunity to try on traditional Japanese clothing that came from the National Children’s Museum in Washington.  Spokesperson Lisa Marie Ryder says the museum hopes children will get interested in Japanese culture. “One way to do that is to feel and touch those traditional items, we hope will get them excited to learn about Japan and the world around them," she said.

The Cherry Blossom Festival also provides activities for children to learn crafts that reflect Japanese culture.  Filipina Judytte Purdy is helping her daughter create a clothespin doll. "And this is actually my first time to make something like this," she said.

Katelyn Hinkel is also having fun with a different project. "While you’re gluing the popcorn on, it makes it look like a cherry blossom tree with real popcorn on it," she said.

The festival continues through April, emphasizing the enduring relationship between the United States and Japan.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs