National Cherry Blossom Festival In Review

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By Stephen Blackadar and Madison Le

April 26, 2021

One of the things the D.C. area is famous for are the beautiful cherry blossoms in the springtime. There is an event called the National Cherry Blossom Festival that is held every year to celebrate these beautiful signs of the season. The festival celebrates the long lasting bond of friendship between the United States and Japan through traditional Japanese festivities.

The National Cherry Blossom festival celebrates the gifting of 3,000 cherry blossom trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki in Japan, to the people of Washington D.C. in 1912. The first festival took place in 1935 and has been held in D.C. every year since. Over 1.5 million people enjoy the festivities expressing Japanese culture and signs of spring, making the National Cherry Blossom Festival one of many activities enjoyed by tourists who visit Washington, D.C.  Tourists partake in various activities that commemorate the Cherry Blossom Festival such as touring the festival grounds or participating in traditional Japanese activities.

In past years, the National Cherry Blossom Festival has been celebrated with a variety of special activities. One of the more popular activities is the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, which displays performers, floats, and more. Another activity is the Official Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony, which consists of the National Park Service lighting a Japanese Stone Lantern while Japanese diplomats play traditional Japanese music. Some guests even go on boat tours in the Tidal Basin to enjoy the sight of the blossoms on the water.

However, this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival has had to adapt. One of the ways that they did this was by providing a live online feed of the cherry trees, which allowed people from around the world to see the blossoms without having to travel to D.C. The National Cherry Blossom Festival Celebration Show is also airing on television across the country, as well as being streamed online, allowing people to watch the festival from the comfort of their homes. The broadcast includes traditional Japanese music, performances by celebrities, information about the cherry blossoms, and a live broadcast of the cherry trees.

While many things, including the cherry blossom festival, have changed in recent times, the festival remains a local tradition and a symbol of the friendship between the United States and Japan. So, during the next festive period you should attend the festival and take part in the traditional Japanese festivities to commemorate this special bond!