Japan’s Flower Diplomacy in Washington

The cherry blossoms are a huge win for Japan’s public diplomacy

April 09th, 2019
Margareta Calugher, News from Berlin
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The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. commemorates the gifting of 3,000 cherry blossoms from Tokyo’s Mayor Yukio Ozaki, in 1912. The gift is a symbol of international peace and represents the friendship of the two countries.

This year, the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., is held from March 20th until April 14th. During this time, the cultural attaches at the Japanese Embassy coordinate activities for the Cherry Blossom festivities. The spectacular bloom of cherry trees attracts around 1.5 million people during the four-week celebration. Therefore, in 2019, 40 different events, including a kite festival, parade, fireworks, and art installations, most of them free and open to the public, were organized.

The tradition of cherry blossom festivals in the U.S. dates to 1935, when the National Cherry Blossom festival began to honor Japan’s 1912 gift. In Japan, this celebration also known as hanami, or sitting outdoor, beneath sakura or cherry blossom trees, has been held since the late eighth century.

As Japan's trade minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer plan to hold talks on a framework for a "trade agreement on goods" from April 15 to 16, the blooming cherry trees should be an advantage for Tokyo’s economic and political negotiations in Washington.


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