Originally, the Cherry Blossom Festival started when Japan gifted the United States 3,000 cherry blossom trees as a symbol of friendship. These trees were planted in March 1912, in Washington D.C., by the first ladies. They still do this to the present day. In return for the cherry blossom trees, the U.S. sent flowering dogwood trees to Japan in 1915. The first official festival did not start until 1927.
In the present day, the national festival in Washington D.C. spans four weeks (This year, it’s happening from March 20-April 14!) and is attended by 1.5 million people. It is a diverse and cultural place where people can get creative and find the beauty around them. There is also traditional and contemporary events. This is free and open to the public.
Washington D.C. is far away from California, so a more local Cherry Blossom Festival is held in San Francisco’s Japantown every year. This year, the festival will be held from April 13-14 and April 20-21. In fact, this year is their 52nd year! They celebrate cherry trees that represent sakura in San Francisco. Here is a quote by Ariwara no Narihara (825-880 A.D), “If there were no cherry blossoms in this world, How much tranquil would our hearts be in spring. The festival is very popular and is attended by an average of 200,000 people per year. It is fun, family-friendly, and provides entertainment in the Peace Plaza. If you look to the Sakura 360 stage, Japanese culture will be celebrated. You can also see origami, bonsai trees, tea ceremonies, doll making, and much more!