The Cherry Blossoms, a Gift from Japan a Century Ago

Posted on: April 11th, 2014 by lighthouseadmin

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1885: Mrs. Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore, upon returning to Washington from her first visit to Japan, approached the U.S. Army Superintendent of the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds, with the proposal that cherry trees be planted one day along the reclaimed Potomac waterfront. Her request fell on deaf ears. Over the next twenty-four years, Mrs. Scidmore approached every new superintendent, but her idea met with no success.
Finally, in 1909 Mrs. Scidmore sent a note outlining her plan to the new first lady, Helen Herron Taft.
Mrs. Taft had lived in Japan and was familiar with the beauty of the flowering cherry trees.
1912: February 14, 3,020 cherry trees from twelve varieties were shipped from Yokohama on board the S.S.Awa Maru, bound for Seattle. Upon arrival, they were transferred to insulated freight cars for the shipment to Washington. D.C.
The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or “Sakura,” is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
Courtesy NPS.GOV

Photos by Krishna Pal, Occupational Therapist, LightHouse Healthcare

 

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