National Cherry Blossom Festivals, Washington DC, San Francisco, Hawaii, Chinhae, Macon
National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC
Held between late March and early April
The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC, is usually celebrated between March 20 and April 15, when the cherry trees planted around the Potomac River Tidal Basin start blooming.
The 3,000 cherry trees stand in the focus of the two-week long National Cherry Blossom Festival, held to celebrate the friendship between The United States and Japan. The original trees were a gift to the city of Washington from the city of Tokyo, Japan, in 1912. Unfortunately, most of them perished, because their roots were flooded by the water in the Basin.
The new trees, however, were planted with special care and now thrive. In order for the dates for the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC not to coincide with Easter and Holy Week celebrations, the city sets them a year in advance.
The celebration of the blossoming of the trees has existed since 1948, although earlier observances included the reenactment of the original planting and crowning a Cherry Blossom Festival Queen. Today, the festivities include formal receptions for the fifty-two festival princesses that represent the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the territory of Guam, and a Cherry Blossom procession parading through downtown Washington, D.C.
Hanami, Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan
Held between March and April
Hanami, in Japanese, means "flower viewing," and it refers specifically to cherry blossoms. Appreciation of the cherry blossom in Japan is almost a religion. The white-and-pink blooms live for about two weeks to witness the people's swarming to the parks to picnic, games, story-telling, and dance.
Companies often hold hanami parties for their employees, with the season beginning at the end of March in Kyushu, in early April in Tokyo and in late April in northern Japan. The most popular viewing place is Yoshinoyama near Nara, where nearly 1,000 trees can be viewed at a glance.
Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco
Held in April
The Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco's Japantown takes place over two consecutive weekends in April with the participation of over 2,000 Japanese Americans and performers from Japan.
Based on the traditional Hanami festival (to the right) in Japan, the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival is a celebration of Japanese customs and culture featuring exhibitions of Japanese art and dancing, bonsai exhibits, kimono and obi demonstrations, tea ceremonies, etc.
At the climax of the observances is a three-hour procession parading from City Hall to the Japan Center at Post and Fillmore Streets. The parade consists of the Cherry Blossom Queen, singers and dancers, floats, Akita dogs, Taiko drummers, etc. They also carry the traditional Taru Mikoshi, a portable shrine piled so high with casks of the rice-based sake that it takes a hundred men to move it.
The Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco, forst observed in 1968, lasts for 7 days, covering 2 weekends in April. It also celebrates the establishment of San Francisco’s Japan Center.
National Cherry Blossom Festival in Hawaii
Held between February and March
The Cherry Blossom Festival in Hawaii is held in Honolulu, sometime from mid-February to the first week in April, as an annual Japanese cultural celebration.
Because cherry trees don't grow in Hawaii, the celebration of the beauty of the nearly-sacred Japanese cherry blossoms remains purely symbolic. The observances invite visitors to a variety of events: Kabuki drama productions, traditional Japanese dances, martial arts demonstrations, Japanese films, and art exhibits dealing with such matters as weaving and paper-doll making.
The Cherry Blossom Festival in Hawaii was first held in 1953 by the Honolulu Japanese community in an effort to popularize the Hawaiian Japanese heritage.
Cherry Blossom Festival in Chinhae
Held in early April
A Cherry Blossom Festival is held in Chinhae, South Kyongsang, Korea, the headquarters of the Korean Navy, in honor of Korea’s famous Admiral Yi Sun-shin, and also as an excuse to enjoy the hundreds of blossoming cherry trees growing in the area.
The illustrious Admiral Yi defeated the Japanese in countless sea battles during the Japanese invasions of the late sixteenth century. He is famous for having invented the "turtle boats," the first iron-clad naval vessels, with twenty-six cannons on each side. Although they were heavily outnumbered, they proved superior to their Japanese counterparts.
The Cherry Blossom Festival in Chinhae includes daily events, such as parades, sports contest, a memorial service, music and dance performances, and folklore games.
Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon
Held in March
The event celebrates the blooming of the Yoshino cherry trees in Macon, Ga., bearing the name "the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World" as a self-designation.
In Macon, cherry trees can be traced back to 1952 when William A. Fickling noticed a mystery tree on his lawn and identified it as a Yoshino flowering cherry, a native of Japan. Later, he learned to propagate the trees, and began giving them to the community as gifts.
Today Macon has over 170,000 Yoshino cherry trees given by the Fickling family, 30 times more than the number in Washington, D.C. The Macon Cherry Blossom Festival is observed in honor of Fickling, and has love and international friendship for its main theme.
The celebrations, began in 1982, usually last for ten days celebration including the 10-mile Cherry Blossom Trail, and offering about 250 different activities, such as parades, fireworks, aircraft displays and fly-ins, concerts, a bed race, a lantern-lighting ceremony, a fashion show, and the fire department’s Pink Pancake Breakfast.
The city continues donating trees: about 10,000 are given as gifts to area residents for planting each spring.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Washington DC
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