Saturday, April 12: This morning, I leave home in the dark, at 6 a.m., to try to beat the crowds converging on the cherry blossoms, which are at peak bloom around the Tidal Basin. I know if I don’t get there early, I’ll never find a parking spot because not only are the trees at their peak, but today is the Cherry Blossom Parade on Constitution Avenue. It’s also Sakura Matsuri — the Japanese Street Festival. The major streets through D.C. will be blocked. It turns out I am early enough to get a parking spot on the Waterfront, about a quarter-mile walk from the Tidal Basin. It’s a gorgeous spring day, a welcome relief after the winter we’ve had.
Despite the early hour, it’s still crowded with hordes of people taking pictures of the beautiful blossoms and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, dedicated to our founding father and third president of the United States.
I wander up to the Washington Monument because I’m supposed to meet my friend Margie at around 7:45. We meet up and continue walking around the Tidal Basin.
Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries.
In 1915, the United States Government reciprocated with a gift of flowering dogwood trees to the people of Japan. In 1981, Japanese horticulturists were given cuttings from the trees to replace some cherry trees in Japan which had been destroyed in a flood, bringing the gifting full circle.
After our walk, we stop for a leisurely coffee at a cafe and then I head home, where I get dressed to attend my friend Johanna’s wedding in Baltimore this evening. 🙂