History of the Cherry Blossom in DC

washington monument during cherry blossom blooming in washington dc


If you come to Washington DC to see the beautiful Cherry Blossoms you may be wondering what the history of them is. In this article we will go over the really interesting history of the cherry blossom. cherry trees and cherry blossoms are different varieties of cherry trees. A standard cherry tree might have more of a focus being put on producing delicious fruit while a cherry blossom places the focus on the flowers. Over the years, people have produced many different varieties of cherry trees. Cherry blossoms are a symbolic flower of the spring, a time of renewal, and the fleeting nature of life. Their life is very short. After their beauty peaks around two weeks, the blossoms start to fall.  Hanami literally means “watching blossoms,” and the tradition can be traced back at least a thousand years. The national flower of Japan, the cherry blossom – or Sakura, represents a time of renewal and optimism. The pops of pink mark the ending of winter and signify the beginning of spring. Due to their quick blooming season, cherry blossoms also symbolize the transience of life, a major theme in Buddhism. Now that we have some back history on the Cherry Blossom itself, let’s learn how it came to be in Washington DC.

History and meaning

As we are all ready for this years Cherry Blossom festival which is held in Washington DC, let’s dig up some history and see how it all began, and how America was blessed enough to have such a gorgeous tree. If we go back to the origin of the Cherry Blossom festivals, this tradition was handed down from the Japanese, and they have been having these celebrations for thousands of years, they refer to it as “Hanami”. In Japan the cherry blossom symbolizing the cycle of life, death and rebirth. They have used these to symbolize many different things but most commonly, predicting successful harvest of rice or just giving them as gifts to World War II kamikaze for inspired courage on their missions.

In 1910 the the cherry trees were donated to Washington DC, they donated 2,000 trees in the name of the city of Tokyo  and they were then plated along the Potomac River. Sadly after they were planted, the trees were discovered by to have been infested with and were then ordered to be burned in an attempt to prevent any type of infestation, to ensure other growers would not be affected. Luckily, another generous donation was given to Washington in 1912. This was a donation of 12 different varieties with a total of 3,020 trees. The most commonly known type is the Somei-Yoshino. If you ever visit Japan you will normally see this type of Cherry Blossom there. This gift of trees from Japan was meant to honor the burgeoning relationship between the two nations and to symbolize the renewal of spring and the ephemeral nature of life. In 1935 the first Cherry Blossom festival took place, this was interrupted in 1941 due to 4 cherry tress being cut down when pearl harbor occurred. The Blossoms only last about 4-10 days. They have sense suggested the trees be referred to as Oriental trees in hopes that another incident like this one will not occur again.

If you are planning a trip to Washington DC to be a part of this historical festival whether you’re just visiting or are a resident of the District, it is well-known that one of the best spots to see the cherry blossoms is along the Tidal Basin and at the Jefferson Memorial. The National Arboretum boasts 76 varieties of cherry trees and 446 acres to roam around on. Other spots include Meadowlark Botanic Garden in Northern Virginia, as well as Stanton Park and local spots like Foxhall Village. This experience is made even more special when you know the history of how it all began as a kind gesture, and to see the struggle Americans dealt with even trying to have them be here. If you book a guided tour while you are in Washington DC to partake in this, you will not regret it. This is a way to avoid crowds and have an organized visit to see the Cherry Blossoms.

Capitol Express Tours; Cherry Blossom Season

Capitol Express Tours is no stranger to Washington DC and all of the events many come to see. They are ready to show you the best sites in DC to see the blossoms. This is the most highly acclaimed venue in this great nation’s capital city. Book a tour now to experience this unforgettable journey. Booking a guided tour is always wise when you are visiting a place that you do not know very well, the employees are locals to the area and that does help if you happen to have questions on the history and best places to go. Do not waste any time and book your guided Cherry Blossom Tour!