DC's most iconic festival is about more than flowering trees. It's also a state of our cultural values.
Washington, DC, is a place where massive changeover occurs like clockwork every four or eight years, but the annual Cherry Blossom Festival represents continuity. In this season of firsts, the festival celebrates its 90th anniversary and 105 years since the United States received the gift of cherry trees from Japan. During this particular cherry blossom season, the broader influence of the gift—and of Japanese culture—is prominent throughout the city. Take a culinary tour of Japan with a reservation at Sushi Taro or Sushiko, two of the best Japanese restaurants in the DMV.
Explore the Japanese-style garden at the Hillwood Estate, especially beautiful this time of year. Hotels, restaurants, and studios are a veritable scavenger hunt of cherry blossom décor; as you explore, share your favorites online and tag Capitol File with the hashtag #CapFileMoment. Ninety years on, the festival feels like an apolitical extravaganza, but it’s worth noting that the gift from Tokyo City Mayor Yukio Ozaki was intended to deepen relations between our two countries.
There were dark times in that relationship—Star Trek actor and social media star George Takei wrote a moving, haunting account for The Washington Post last year of his own experiences in the US’s World War II internment camps—but the cherry blossoms are a beautiful and important reminder of the positive values that have made us a leader on the global stage