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Washington's Cherry Blossoms

Drawing visitors from around the globe, Washington's famous cherry trees put on a spectacular show each spring. Originally a gift from the people of Japan to the people of the United States, the history of the cherry trees mirrors the political relationship of the two countries. The first Japanese flowering cherry trees were planted around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park in 1912. These trees, twelve varieties, 3,020 trees in total were shipped from Japan and offered as a gesture of friendship.

Just one generation later the relationship had turned to another extreme. On December 11, 1941, just four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, four cherry trees were cut down in suspected retaliation. To prevent future damage the trees were officially referred to as the "Oriental" flowering cherry trees for the remainder of the Second World War.

During the Second World War and the difficult years afterward the famed cherry tree grove along the Arakawa River near Tokyo, parent stock for Washington's original cherry trees, had suffered and many died. In 1952 Japan requested help to restore the grove in the Adachi Ward, and the National Park Service shipped budwood from descendants of those same trees back to Tokyo in an effort to restore the original site.

Before the successful 1912 gift the Japanese had made an earlier attempt to offer cherry trees to the United States. Unfortunately when they arrived the Department of Agriculture determined the trees were diseased and the entire shipment was destroyed. In 1965 the Japanese Government made another generous gift of 3,800 Yoshino cherry trees. American-grown this time, many of these trees from the 1965 gift are planted on the grounds of the Washington Monument. In 1986 another 676 cherry trees were planted around the Tidal Basin to replace the original cherry trees which had died since their original arrival in 1912.

In 1997 cuttings were taken from those documented, surviving 1912 Yoshino cherry trees, to ensure preservation of the trees' genetic lineage. In 2002-2006 some 400 trees, propagated from those surviving original cherry trees, were planted to ensure that the genetic lineage of the original trees is continued into the future.

In 1999 a new variety of Japanese cherry tree was introduced to the Washington landscape. Fifty trees, propagated from the 1,400+ year old "Usuzumi" cherry tree growing in the village of Itasho Neo in Gifu Prefecture of Japan, were planted in West Potomac Park. The ancient "Usuzumi" tree, declared a National Treasure of Japan in 1922, is said to have been planted by the 26th Emperor Keitai of Japan 1,500 years ago to celebrate his ascension to the throne.
Couple on Wet Morning
Couple on Wet Morning
Running With Dogs
Running With Dogs
Japanese Stone Lantern & Cherry Blossoms
Japanese Stone Lantern & Cherry Blossoms
Blossoms & Bark
Blossoms & Bark
Perfect Blossoms
Perfect Blossoms
Family Walks Under Cherry Blossoms
Family Walks Under Cherry Blossoms
Peak Bloom
Peak Bloom
Runner and Cherry Blossoms
Runner and Cherry Blossoms
t3%2f34%2f375734%2f4%2f110905785.LnXcD3xt.jpg Japanese Stone Lantern and Cherry Blossoms
Japanese Stone Lantern and Cherry Blossoms
Runner Under Old Cherry Tree in Bloom
Runner Under Old Cherry Tree in Bloom
Under the Cherry Blossoms
Under the Cherry Blossoms
Washington's Famous Cherry Blossoms (detail)
Washington's Famous Cherry Blossoms (detail)
Weekend Crowds
Weekend Crowds
Photographer under Blooming Cherry Tree
Photographer under Blooming Cherry Tree
Cherry Blossoms Grow from Trunk of Ancient Cherry Tree
Cherry Blossoms Grow from Trunk of Ancient Cherry Tree
Picnic under Ancient Cherry Tree
Picnic under Ancient Cherry Tree
Cherry Blossoms Grow from Trunk of Ancient Cherry Tree #2
Cherry Blossoms Grow from Trunk of Ancient Cherry Tree #2
Washington's Cherry Blossoms
Washington's Cherry Blossoms
A Gnarled Old Cherry Tree Begins to Bloom
A Gnarled Old Cherry Tree Begins to Bloom
Cherry Trees in Bloom at the Jefferson Memorial
Cherry Trees in Bloom at the Jefferson Memorial
Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms
Under Pink & Blue
Under Pink & Blue
Spring at The Tidal Basin
Spring at The Tidal Basin
Cherry Blossoms at The Tidal Basin #1
Cherry Blossoms at The Tidal Basin #1
Walk Before Work
Walk Before Work
Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin #2
Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin #2
Strolling Past Ancient Cherry Trees
Strolling Past Ancient Cherry Trees
Sunrise over the Jefferson Memorial
Sunrise over the Jefferson Memorial
Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin #4
Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin #4
Pink Cherry Blossoms
Pink Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin #3
Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin #3
Slow Down and Enjoy the View
Slow Down and Enjoy the View
Blossoms Sprout from Ancient Cherry Tree
Blossoms Sprout from Ancient Cherry Tree
New Cherry Blossoms
New Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Trees Bloom Near Ohio Drive Bridge
Cherry Trees Bloom Near Ohio Drive Bridge
Blossom Cluster on Cherry Tree Trunk
Blossom Cluster on Cherry Tree Trunk
Runner Passes Ancient Cherry Tree
Runner Passes Ancient Cherry Tree