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wednesday , march 14, 2012

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Cherry Blossoms

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100 YEARS IN WASHINGTON

MARCOS CHIN FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

Eliza Scidmore, an adventurer and the mother of the cherry blossoms, battled for decades for the flora from afar — now they define Washington. H4

A natural fit The MLK Memorial takes its place amid a fresh circle of history and beauty. H6

After the disaster In Tomioka, the trees will bloom this year. But no one is likely to see. H7

Burden of history Decades after World War II, a community struggles with its mixed legacy. H6

Festival guide The annual celebration is extended this year; check out all of the events. H8


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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2012

CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 2012

100 years of blossoms A cherry blossom timeline, according to the National Park Service and Washington Post research. Compiled by Michael E. Ruane. pests. (A mysterious, gnarled grove slightly off the tourist path today may contain a dozen or so that were spared the flames.) 1912: Undaunted by the infected trees, diplomats arrange for a new donation, and 3,020 healthy trees arrive in Washington on March 26. 1912: Scidmore, Taft, Japanese Ambassador Sutemi Chinda and his wife, Iwa, plant the first two trees on March 27. MICHAEL WILLIAMSON/THE WASHINGTON POST

1913-1920: Workers continue planting cherry trees around the Tidal Basin. THE D.C. PUBLIC LIBRARY

BLOSSOM BACKER: Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore is credited with helping bring the cherry trees to Washington. 1885: Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore, returning to Washington from her first visit to Japan, approaches government officials to propose that Japanese cherry trees be planted along the reclaimed Potomac River waterfront. She is ignored, but continues lobbying for 24 years. 1906:David Fairchild, plant explorer and U.S. Department of Agriculture official, imports 75 flowering cherry trees from the Yokohama Nursery Co. in Japan. He plants them on his land in Chevy Chase to test their hardiness. 1907: Fairchild, pleased with his success, begins to promote Japanese cherry trees as the ideal thing to plant along avenues in Washington. 1908: Fairchild adds his voice to Scidmore’s, suggesting that the area around the Tidal Basin be transformed into a “Field of Cherries.” 1909: Scidmore appeals to new first lady Helen Taft for cherry trees. Taft seizes the idea and replies: “I have taken the matter up and am promised the trees.”

1916: Masayo Chinda, son of Japanese Ambasador Sutemi Chinda and his wife, hangs himself in the Japanese Embassy on K Street. Friends blame the young economist’s death on “strain induced by overwork.” 1927: The original planting is commemorated with a reenactment by Washington schoolchildren.

1986 to 1988: A total of 676 new cherry trees are planted with $101,000 in private donations to the National Park Service to restore the trees to their original number. HARRIS & EWING

GOODWILL GIFT: Ambassador of Japan Sadao Iguchi, third from right, presents a stone lantern to commemorate a goodwill treaty between the U.S. and Japan.

1934: The District of Columbia commissioners sponsor a three-day cherry blossom celebration. 1935: The first “Cherry Blossom Festival” is jointly hosted by local civic groups. 1938: The Great Cherry Blossom Uprising. Local cherry tree lovers “chain” themselves to trees that are being removed to prepare for the Jefferson Memorial. A compromise is reached with a government promise to plant more trees. 1940: Cherry Blossom Pageant is introduced

1909: Japanese chemist Jokichi Takamine and diplomat Kokichi Mizuno suggest Tokyo donate the trees as a gesture of friendship between the U.S. and Japan. Helen Taft accepts the offer. 1910: On Jan. 6, 2,000 Japanese cherry trees arrive in Washington, but have to be destroyed because they are infested with

BOTHERSOME BEAVER: A beaver family caused damage to trees in 1999.

BUTTS PORTRAIT STUDIO

UNITED PRESS

BLOSSOM BEAUTIES: Cherry Blossom Queen Jeannine Raymond with Vice President Richard Nixon on March 4, 1955. At left, Cherry Blossom Princess Rita Favre in 1950. 1941: Dec. 11, four cherry trees are cut down in apparent retaliation for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. For the time being, the trees are referred to as the “Oriental” flowering cherry trees.

Visit the award winning Sugarloaf Mountain

Winery in Dickerson. Take a driving tour along the Civil War Trails and the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve. Or, take a short ride on the Metro Rail to our nation’s capital, the heart of American history.

VISITMONTGOMERY.COM 877-789-6904 240-777-2060

1994: The National Cherry Blossom Festival is expanded from one week to two weeks.

1948: Cherry Blossom princesses are selected from each state and federal territory, and from the princesses, a festival queen is chosen.

1997: Cuttings are taken from the documented, surviving 1912 tree shipment, to ensure preservation of the trees’ genetic lineage.

1952: Japan requests U.S. help in restoring Washington’s cherry tree parents near Tokyo, and the National Park Service ships budwood from descendants back to Japan.

1999: A beaver family is relocated from the Tidal Basin after gnawing through several cherry trees, alarming the human populace.

1954: Sadao Iguchi, the Japanese ambassador to the United States, presents a 300-year-old Japanese granite lantern to Washington to commemorate the 1854 goodwill treaty between Japan and the United States. 1958: A Japanese stone pagoda is dedicated on the bank of the Tidal Basin, as a symbol of friendship from the mayor of Yokohama. 1965: The Japanese government donates another 3,800 cherry trees to Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson. American-grown, many of these trees are planted around the Washington Monument. 1982: About 800 cuttings from Tidal Basin cherry trees are gathered by Japanese horticulturists to retain genetic characteristics.

1999: Fifty trees, propagated from a 1,400-year-old cherry tree in Japan, are planted in West Potomac Park. The ancient tree had been declared a Japanese national treasure in 1922. 2002-2006: Four-hundred trees, propagated from the surviving 1912 trees, are planted to ensure the genetic lineage of the originals. 2011: Approximately 120 propagates from the surviving 1912 trees around the Tidal Basin are collected by the National Park Service and sent back to Japan to the Japan Cherry Blossom Association to solidify the genetic lineage. 2012: Gala centennial of the first planting. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is temporarily expanded to five weeks. In the footsteps of Helen Taft, first lady Michelle Obama is the honorary chair. ruanem@washpost.com


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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2012

Destination

Japan

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Discover the Wonder

Winter in Japan…leads to Spring in Japan… leads to Summer in Japan…leads to Autumn in Japan. A circle of scenic beauty and cultural quintessence. That is Japan, a destination for travels of discovery any season of the year. This winter, enjoy the healing pleasures of Unazuki Hot Springs. Ski the beautiful fantasy world of the Snow Monsters of Mt. Hakkoda. Explore the World Cultural Heritage sites at Lake Biwa. And if you like, stay for the spectacular cherry blossoms of Spring! Whichever season you come, a beautiful land, invigorating fun and welcoming people await. Japan. Endless discovery.

Find out more at www.japantravelinfo.com

Join us March 20-April 27 in Washington for the 100th Anniversary of Japan’s gift of as many as 3,000 blossoming cherry trees to the United States, a historic gesture of friendship from the people of Japan to the people of the United States. We hope you will attend the

Japanese Tourism Cherry Blossom Symposium Friday, March 23, 2012 The Washington Post Conference Center Register at www.japantransport.com

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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2012

CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 2012

A bold fruition Eliza Scidmore is best known as the champion of the cherry blossom, the woman who fought for years to bring the trees to the nation’s capital. But as a writer and world traveler, she left her mark beyond the Tidal Basin.

PHOTO BY ELIZA SCIDMORE COURTESY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

In the July 1914 issue of National Geographic, the magazine said this tree, in a public garden in the city of Kanazawa, “enjoys a reputation of being the most beautiful cherry tree in Japan.”

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M ICHAEL E . R UANE

he wore a gown of green under a black silk robe embroidered with gold and silver Japanese characters. And when the young woman walked into the Dupont Circle mansion that night, she turned every head. It was the winter of 1894, and the occasion was a fancy dress ball hosted by a senator’s daughter for the best of Washington society. So many of the capital’s elite were expected that the event was covered by the press. The center of attention was the bold guest who arrived in the garb of a traditional Japanese dancer: Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore. She was 37, an author, journalist, traveler and collector of the lore and artifacts of far-off lands. Celebrated for her adventures in Alaska and the Far East — daring for a single woman of her day — she would soon gain renown in Washington for something few people at the ball knew much about. Scidmore (pronounced SID-more) would become in many ways the mother of the cherry blossoms. She is the woman whose love of their beauty sparked the first lobbying campaign to plant Japanese cherry trees at the Tidal Basin — and this month marks the centennial of her efforts realized. Enchanted by the culture of Japan, by 1894 she had been pestering federal officials for almost a decade to plant some of the gorgeous trees she had seen in Tokyo around Washington’s reclaimed Potomac River mud flats, she would say later. It is “the most ideally, wonderfully beautiful tree that nature has to show,” she wrote.

Princes and beggars were entranced. In Japan, people scrawled poems on paper and hung them in the tree branches. But in Washington, bureaucrats of three administrations had been unmoved by her pleas and photographs. “It was as one crying in the wilderness that I begged,” she wrote. And the newspaper report of the ball that evening on New Hampshire Avenue made no mention of her crusade. Today, it is the reason she is famous. In 1909, 15 years after the ball, Scidmore’s “time-worn plea,” as she put it, reached the ear of the new first lady, Helen “Nellie” Taft, who was bent on beautifying Washington. “I have taken the matter up,” Taft replied two days later, according to Scidmore, “and am promised the trees.” After some starts and stops, and the support and generosity of several Japanese and American officials, the trees arrived in late March 1912. On March 27 — more than 25 years after she said she had begun her quest in 1885 — Scidmore attended the ceremonial first planting and etched her name in blossom history. But a century of cherry tree hoopla, and the most common photo of Scidmore looking like a pleasant schoolmarm, have obscured details of a remarkable and somewhat mysterious life. She never married, and despite decades as a top-notch journalist, commentator and world traveler, she revealed almost nothing about her personal life in her writings. Always the narrator, she was never the subject. “There are many gaps in her life,” said Diana Pabst Parsell, a Scidmore scholar, and “very little biographical information. “She was a very, very private person,” added Parsell, of Falls Church. “In her books, for example, she never identifies people she’s traveling with. So you don’t get any insight into her personal life.” Parsell said the accomplished Scidmore might have been treading cautiously amid strict Victorian conventions about women. But “a woman of that era and that age to have accomplished what she did had to have been an exceptional person,” she said. There are glimpses of Scidmore’s personal life in her 1891 travel book,

“Jinrikisha Days in Japan” — scenes of her transporting a camera and tripod around the country, ascending stormy Mount Fuji and learning the intricacies of an ancient Japanese tea ceremony. But they are fleeting. A reporter who covered the Dupont Circle ball wrote a miniature portrait, saying Scidmore had a “superb physique” and “blue-gray eyes . . . full of varying expression and humor.” “She is a brilliant conversationalist,” the writer recounted, “with a keen, trenchant humor . . . and she is possessed of an unexhaustible fund of anecdote and reminiscence of interesting people.” But little more seems available in the

public record. However, rarely seen photographs of her are intriguing. In one, she is depicted with her mother, Eliza C. Scidmore. In another, she is shown with her mother and brother, George. A third photo, which experts think was taken in 1895, shows a woman in a low-cut white dress with billowing, elbow-length sleeves and a dreamy look on her face. The photo, among the Smithsonian Institution’s Scidmore holdings, contrasts other known portraits, in which she wears the buttoned-to-the-neck clothing of the late Victorians. Parsell does not think the Smithsonian photo, although it appears to be

WISCONSIN HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Eliza Scidmore was reared in the District during the Civil War. She was a journalist by 19 and soon began her travels, to Alaska and on to Asia.

among her belongings, shows Scidmore. But if it’s not her, who is it? Scidmore was reared in the District during the Civil War in a boarding house run by her mother, Parsell said. She was a journalist by age 19, covering the 1876 centennial celebration in Philadelphia for a Washington newspaper. She began her travels shortly thereafter — first heading west, where she was photographed in the Dakota Territory by the same man who had taken Gen. George Custer’s picture before the Battle of the Little Bighorn. She moved on to the wilds of Alaska, where an island in Glacier Bay was named for her and where she fell off a horse and broke her collarbone. She journeyed via steamer, train and rickshaw throughout the Far East, where she would study and chronicle the people and cultures of Java, India and China. She prowled Asian cities and curio shops for clothing and artifacts she would later loan to museums. She is said to have found the lost throne of a Chinese empress dowager, which years later was auctioned off to a wealthy collector. Among other things, she covered the great 1896 tsunami in Japan for National Geographic. She also took scores of photographs of Japan for the magazine, some of which might have been the first by a woman to appear in it. The photos were black and white, hand-tinted in color, and depict traditional Japanese life — women in kimonos having tea, students in a rural classroom, an exuberant girl playing a three-string banjo called a shamisen. (Many of those pictures are on view at the National Geographic Society.) She also wrote for the old Century Magazine and many other publications. Parsell found 300 articles she wrote for newspapers such as The Washington Post, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. In addition, Scidmore wrote eight books, Parsell said, and by 1914 Mrs. Taft called her “the most notable foreign figure in the Orient.” While her writing is colorful, detailed and, at times, superb, Scidmore was an opinionated woman of her class and times. She once referred to the “unlovely and unwashed peoples” of China, and to a


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CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 2012

TOP: Eliza Scidmore, who loved Japan, took scores of photos of the country for National Geographic magazine, including this image of women performing a tea ceremony. ABOVE: Scidmore captured this image of Japanese boys taking a training class on pattern- and boxcutting. LEFT: Young girl with hands over mouth.

PHOTOS BY ELIZA SCIDMORE / NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Young woman sings and plays a stringed instrument. The photo appeared in the April 1912 edition of National Geographic.

Japan that looked like a stage set, whose “houses seem toys, (and) their inhabitants dolls.” But it was her love affair with Japan — “the fine flower of the Orient” — that would endear her to Washington and help plant on the shores of the Potomac River what would become a hallmark of the city and her most lasting legacy.

A city in transition March 27, 1912, was a pleasant spring Wednesday in Washington, with the temperature reaching into the 60s. On the Potomac, the four-masted schooner Maria O. Teel was arriving from Maine with the first cargo of ice for the warm season. Wildflowers were blooming in Rock Creek Park, and the first lady was conducting a small group of dignitaries, including the newly arrived Japanese ambassador and his wife, to the Tidal Basin for a tree planting. Washington in the spring of 1912 was a city in transition. Ships still tied up at the 10th and 11th Street wharfs with cargoes of cordwood, coal and oysters, while steam tugs hauled barges of bulk oil from Baltimore. The streets still teemed with horsedrawn carriage, but there were also automobiles — Packards, Hudsons and the “self-starting” Lion 40. Men wore derbies, women the latest “Gaby hat,” an elaborate headpiece named for the popular European entertainer Gaby Deslys. It was a prosperous and peaceful time. Newspapers carried ads for the Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel in Atlantic City. The White Star Line boasted of its elegant new steamship bound for New York in three weeks — the Titanic. The capital was trying to keep up. As the VIPs gathered for the planting, they were hoping to beautify an empty space that had been created with mud dredged from the river. One of the few things in the area was the so-called Speedway, an almost decade-old road built for fast horse carriages. There was talk of erecting a grand memorial to Abraham Lincoln nearby, but that was a few years away. A monument to Thomas Jefferson was decades off. So Taft jumped at the idea to decorate

the area with flowering Japanese cherry trees. Others, such as David G. Fairchild, a federal agriculture official, and his wife, Marian, who raised cherry trees at their Maryland home, were also lobbying the White House to plant them at the Tidal Basin and elsewhere in Washington. Scidmore recounted that the day after she received Taft’s response in 1909, she told two Japanese acquaintances who were in Washington on business: Jokichi Takamine, the New York chemist, and Kokichi Mizuno, Japan’s consul general in New York. The two men immediately suggested a donation of 2,000 trees from Japan, specifically from its capital, Tokyo, as a

gesture of friendship. They asked Scidmore to find out whether that would be acceptable to the first lady. “Very naturally,” Scidmore wrote, “Mrs. Taft did accept.” The first 2,000 trees arrived in January 1910 but had to be burned because they were infested with pests. A second, healthy shipment arrived March 26, 1912. Scidmore, then 55, was the only private citizen recorded among those at the planting ceremony the next day. The delegation was headed by the first lady, who was not fully recovered from a stroke she had suffered in 1909. Japan was represented by its ambas-

sador, Sutemi Chinda, and his wife, Iwa. An accomplished and tragic couple, they had lost one son to an accidental explosion on a Japanese warship and would lose another to suicide at the embassy on K Street four years later. Also present was U.S. Army Col. Spencer Cosby, the polished presidential aide who was in charge of public buildings and grounds in the District. After the planting, the first lady gave the ambassador’s wife a bouquet of roses. There was scant publicity — two paragraphs in one city newspaper, five in another. But Cosby saw the future. “In a few years,” he wrote Tokyo

HARRY GOODWIN/THE WASHINGTON POST

The combination of stunning cherry trees and perfect weather brought out thousands of sightseers in their Easter finery in April 1947. Folks strolled beneath canopies along the Tidal Basin.

Mayor Yukio Ozaki, “this will undoubtedly be one of the famous sights of Washington, and a constant reminder to our citizens of the kindly feeling of your city and country.”

The Japan she loved It was a gloomy, rainy day, with ravens cawing in the dripping pine trees, when Scidmore first saw Tokyo’s ancient monastic grounds and tombs at Shiba. “Led by a lean, one-toothed priest, you follow, stocking footed . . . to behold gold and bronze, lacquer and inlaying, carving and color, golden images sitting in golden shadows, enshrined among golden lotus flowers,” she wrote in “Jinrikisha Days in Japan.” This was the Japan she loved — the mythical, fairy-tale land that was only a few decades removed from its “opening” to the West. She found families living in thatched-roof houses, horses wearing shoes of straw and people dining on chrysanthemum petal salad and cherry blossom tea. She also found, and lamented, a Japan that was modernizing rapidly. Years before her first visit, former president Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia, had toured Nagasaki, planted two trees and left an inscription praying for prosperity and a long life for the country. Scidmore had a link to the country via her brother, who was a longtime lawyer and diplomat there. Their mother lived the last years of her life with her son in Japan. And although Scidmore fretted about the influence on Japan of tennis, billiards and cards; clothing from Paris; “hideous” carpet from Brussels; and “punctilious” etiquette from Berlin, she was cheered by traditions that lived on. Among them was the annual spring homage to the cherry blossoms. “The Japanese have given us their favorite,” she wrote after the gift of Washington’s trees was finalized. “Their own mountain flower, the soul of Japan, the symbol of all they adore and aspire to.” She did not say how she felt about her role in arranging that gift. But when she died of heart failure at 72 in Switzerland in 1928, historians say, the Japanese government requested her ashes. They were interred in Yokohama, where they remain today. ruanem@washpost.com


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CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 2012

MLK Memorial fits in with its surroundings BY

M ICHAEL E . R UANE

Years ago, when chief landscape architect Sheila A. Brady went to scout the site of the future Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the location told her immediately what to plant: Yoshino Japanese cherry trees. The four-acre, landscaped memorial was to be set in the most historic belt of Yoshino flowering cherry trees in the nation, and Brady could see that the memorial would become a big part of the cherry blossoms. The message was clear. This month, as Washington celebrates the centennial of the first cherry tree planting on the Tidal Basin, the King memorial has been integrated physically and emotionally into a fresh circle of history and beauty, its creators said. And the pristine, 30-foot-tall granite statue of King on the northwest shore of the basin — appearing officially for its first National Cherry Blossom Festival — creates a striking new landscape, the National Park Service said. It is the first such site amid the Tidal Basin’s cherry blossoms since the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial was dedicated 15 years ago and the first to tower over the basin since the Jefferson Memorial was dedicated in 1943. The King Memorial opened last summer and was dedicated last fall. The Park Service predicted this week that the trees should start to bloom around March 20, and peak between March 24 and 28. The expanded festival runs from

March 20 to April 27 and this year honors the 100th anniversary of the first planting on March 27, 1912. The original trees were a gift to Washington from Tokyo. “The juxtapositions of the cherry trees . . . to the King Memorial was not a happenstance,” the memorial’s executive architect, Ed Jackson Jr., said in a statement. “The significance of the floral bouquet of cherry blossoms in the early spring is one of rebirth, of recommitment to the ideas and ideals of Dr. King’s vision of America and the American Dream,” he said. In addition, April 4, the date of King’s assassination in 1968, is the average date of the blossoms’ peak blooms. The memorial had to remove a handful of cherry trees in the construction process, said Brady, the landscape architect of record, who works for the Washington firm Oehme, van Sweden and Associates. But the project added 182 new Yoshinos and adjusted the walkway from the basin to the memorial to avoid harming several gnarled old cherry trees nearby, Brady said. As a result, the crescent-shaped memorial is “in congress with all of the cherries,” she said last week. “It just feels like it belongs. It’s very fitted to its context, to its historic context.” “My thinking here was that the cherries were the right material,” she said. “It just seemed to be the right thing to do. You can imagine . . . what if this were all hollies in here? . . . You would have a very

BILL O'LEARY/THE WASHINGTON POST

Sheila A. Brady, chief landscape architect for the MLK Memorial, walks among the older cherry trees along the Tidal Basin. Her design not only integrates the memorial’s grounds into the existing ring of trees; it adds 182 new Yoshinos to the grove.

different sensation.” Brady pointed out that the memorial is “primarily a landscaped memorial, versus an architectural memorial. . . . You’re surrounded in four acres of gardens.” Planted there, along with the cherry trees, are winter jasmine, dwarf sweetspire and Siberian iris, as well as crape myrtles, daylilies and Princeton elms. The scene “presents a whole new vista,” said Robert DeFeo, the National Park Service horticulturist and Washington’s reigning government cherry blossom expert. The new cherry trees are slightly older than the average newly planted cherry tree, DeFeo said, because officials did not want the site to look “just planted.” “They want the memorial to have a little bit of a mature appearance and a little larger tree,” he said in an interview there last week. He said they new trees — which are American-grown — will blossom three or four days behind the older trees because

of the stress of being transplanted. But the difference won’t be that notable. The Tidal Basin cherry trees are now joined by national icons on four sides — the King Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Roosevelt Memorial. But the dialog, moderated by the elegant white blossoms, between King, who stands with folded arms, and Thomas Jefferson, who was a slaveholder, is striking, Brady said. “Why is [King] looking over like that?” she said. “And why is his stance like that? . . . When children look up and say, ‘Who is he? And who is he looking at over there?’ Those are wonderful questions. And our history has a lot to do with that back and forth.” And the presence of the King Memorial now in the “sacred ground” of Washington’s monumental core “is what’s most compelling to me,” she said. “It says a lot to our country [about] the importance of having Dr. King here.” ruanem@washpost.com

BY MADI FLINN, 10, BURKE

Sunday in KidsPost A special section celebrates the cherry tree anniversary with art created by Washington area kids on the meaning of the blossoms. Plus books, activities and games related to the festival.

For Japanese Americans, WWII leaves a mixed legacy BY

P AMELA C ONSTABLE

For a long, quiet moment, a whitehaired gentleman stood and gazed at the words engraved in a low granite wall. Few passersby noticed the memorial, tucked on a tiny patch of federal parkland near Union Station. But every time Grant Ichikawa returns to the spot and stands before the statue of two majestic birds caught in barbed wire, a half-century of memories floods back. “This is a holy place for me. My whole life is here,” Ichikawa, 93, a Japanese American veteran of World War II and resident of Vienna, said on a chilly afternoon in February. First, he pointed to a row of stone panels listing obscure towns across the west and south. “Gila River — that’s the camp where my family was interned,” he said. Then he turned to another panel honoring about 20,000 Japanese Americans who served in the war, including more than 800 who died. “You fought not only the enemy,” he recited from one tribute, carved in the granite. “You fought prejudice, and you won.” It took 47 years for the U.S. government to apologize, in 1988, for the wartime executive order that swept more than 120,000 Japanese Americans into remote prison camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Still later, in 2000, the modest memorial was built, in part to honor Japanese Americans who served in U.S. Army combat and intelligence units and in part to commemorate the ordeal of families that were interned. In a gesture to Japanese cultural roots, the monument is surrounded by a semicircle of flowering cherry trees. These are the same delicate trees that line the Tidal Basin — a gift from Japan whose centennial is being celebrated this spring, and one that has survived some of the worst years of the relationship between the two nations. In addition, the two struggling birds in the memorial are Japanese cranes. “We are Americans, but we are very proud of our Japanese cultural heritage. Both the cherry trees and the cranes signify our ties to the old country,” said Gerald Yamada, 67, a retired U.S. government lawyer who played a key role in promoting

and developing the memorial project. Today, the estimated 800,000 Japanese Americans — some of whose forebears immigrated more than a century ago — have achieved extraordinary economic success and have worked exceptionally hard to integrate fully into U.S. society. Many lost thriving produce farms and other businesses during the war, then redoubled their efforts after it ended. Some joined the federal government or built political careers, notably Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Norman Y. Mineta, transportation secretary under President George W. Bush. Yet the complicated legacy of their special past continues to privately haunt the postwar Japanese American community. Once caught between two warring powers and viewed with suspicion by their ancestral homeland and their adopted country, many have wrestled ever since with a legacy of wounded dignity, conflicted identity and vertiginous twists of fate. With a single act — the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 — a proud and accomplished immigrant group became a pariah population, ridiculed and feared. Only after decades of effort to out-perform and assimilate — decades also of embarrassed silence about the past — have many Japanese Americans begun to publicly discuss their wrenching wartime experiences. “We were always told to be as American as possible,” said Floyd Mori, 73, a lifelong activist from California and Utah who heads the District-based Japanese American Citizens League. He recalled being excluded as a boy from schoolmates’ birthday parties. Even his original name, Shiro, was changed to Floyd so he would fit in better. “We were seen as the enemy, and we were ashamed of being Japanese,” he said. “I put my heritage aside, and it took me years before I began to understand and appreciate those values.” Despite their drive to assimilate, scholars say many Japanese Americans have clung fiercely to core Japanese traditions and values, from rice-pounding holiday rituals and ikebana flower-arranging classes to absolute insistence on paying the entire restaurant bill.

LINDA DAVIDSON/THE WASHINGTON POST

Hillary Nakano, left, with Kaitlin Inamasu, is a fellow in the Washington office of the Japanese American Citizens League. Nakano, 23, said she told peers in Japan of the wartime internment of Japanese Americans, a situation they were unaware of.

Yet they rarely put these roots on public display. While other, newer Asian Americans tend to cluster in urban enclaves with ethnic eateries, Japanese Americans are more secluded and scattered through affluent communities. Most live on the West Coast or in Hawaii, and only a handful make their home in the Washington area, census data show, mostly because of government-related jobs. Larry Shinagawa, 46, a professor of Asian American studies at the University of Maryland, said many Japanese Americans have adhered strongly to the ancient samurai values of endurance, reserve, ambition, duty and avoiding embarrassment. These values helped them survive the war, then put it behind them and rebuild their lives, even while the wounds were fresh. “We are the most mainstream American of all Asians, yet we are more traditional than the Japanese in Japan,” said Shinagawa, a California native. He described how his family was forced to abandon its home in 1941, carrying heirloom kimonos and swords to a guarded horse stable, where they were housed for weeks. “We are frozen in time. We are caught between two cultures, and we have mixed feelings about everything.” Another legacy of the war was that Japanese Americans remained estranged for decades from the country and government of Japan. Little fresh immigration and few visitor exchanges took place until the past 20 years. In the 1970s, a wave of Japanese investment brought a new form of rivalry, along with thousands of businessmen from Tokyo, to the West Coast. Today, there are well more than 100,000 Japanese nation-

als living and working temporarily in the United States, yet for the most part, they do not mingle socially with Japanese Americans. Now that longtime chill is beginning to thaw, in part because of aggressive diplomatic outreach by Japan and in part because a new generation of Japanese American students and young professionals, including fourth- and fifth-generation immigrants, have begun to visit Japan and take jobs there. Yet some visitors report being viewed as objects of confusion and curiosity in their ancestral homeland. “I have been to Japan five times now, and I found people were fascinated to meet a Japanese American. They didn’t even know we exist,” said Hillary Nakano, 23, a Californian who is living in Washington as a fellow with Mori’s nonprofit group. She said that when she tried to explain about the wartime internment camps, her peers in Japan had no idea what she was talking about. Kaitlin Inamasu, 19, a student at George Washington University from Hawaii, said she has never been to Japan and speaks English, Spanish and Hawaiian. But she said that coming to Washington, where people constantly ask her about her background, made her suddenly aware and proud of her Japanese roots. Now, when she goes home on vacation, she has started asking her grandparents about their internment. “I had never asked before, and they had never talked about it,” she said. Since the 1988 apology by President Ronald Reagan, and the accompanying legislation that provided financial redress for camp survivors, a burst of pride, cre-

ativity and discussion among Japanese Americans has gradually replaced the years of silent shame over the war. Some creative projects even raise the still-sensitive issue of disputes within internment camps between young men who volunteered for the U.S. war effort and others who were too embittered to join up. “The apology told people it wasn’t their fault. It lifted the feelings of guilt, so now the stories can be told,” said Yamada, 67, during a recent visit to the memorial, at Louisiana Avenue and D Street NW. Yamada, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War, also heads the Japanese-American Veterans Association. But it is Ichikawa and another local World War II veteran, Terry Shima, who work tirelessly to raise public awareness of their history. Shima, 88, loves visiting schools to recount the heroic exploits of his compatriots who fought the Germans in Europe and worked as intelligence gatherers in the Pacific. The American students, he said, are always amazed. “In World War II we were treated as non-persons. Now, in 70 years, there has been a huge transformation,” said Shima, a resident of Gaithersburg who always wears his veterans’ cap. “We proved our loyalty and leveled the playing field for future generations to compete and succeed in America.” Like Ichikawa, he said he reveres the memorial, but for a different reason. “To me, it represents the greatness of America,” Shima said. “The government recognized it had made a huge mistake and apologized for it. No other nation would have done that.” constablep@washpost.com


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A Japanese town known for blooms now sits forsaken BY

C HICO H ARLAN

tokyo — Tomioka, just miles

from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, was once a town famous for its cherry blossom trees. They were a pink glitter spread across the grid of streets, forming clusters near schoolyards and parks, dotting the boundary of a golf course, lining main roads. A few even popped up near the northern edge of town, along the coastal road that workers took when driving to begin their shifts at the nuclear plant. Japanese call their beloved cherry tree the “sakura,” and in its yearly cycle they see a poignant sign of beauty’s impermanence. The sakura blooms in early spring, starting in the southern parts of the country, and as weeks go by, a wand of pink moves northward, taking with it millions of people who want to eat, drink and picnic under the shade. A week or two after the flowers bloom, they fall away. The outdoor celebrations end, and Japanese talk about the fleeting nature of their national icon. But this year, in a country one year removed from twinned natural disasters and a resulting nuclear crisis, the sakura celebration carries a more sorrowful sentiment. In now-vacant towns such as Tomioka, the cherry blossoms will still bloom. Nobody is likely to see them. In the wake of the triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant, radioactive isotopes spread across the region, prompting the government to declare a 12-mile circle around the facility off limits to residents. Tomioka fell well within that circle, and these days, its main streets are windblown and abandoned, with windows broken, front doors unhinged, animals roaming loose. Some buildings were toppled by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and were never repaired. It will take at least five years, the government says, until people have a chance to return. For many former Tomioka residents, cherry blossom season, once their favorite part of the year, is now the toughest. The town of 16,000 formed its identity around the trees. Municipal workers had pictures of them on their business cards. The town would draw more than 100,000 visitors for its annual festival, with musical per-

formers and food vendors lining the street. About 10 years ago, the town put together a book with more than 300 personal essays about individuals’ memories of the cherry blossoms. “The town itself was really just all sakura,” said Minako Ooshima. Before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Ooshima had worked at Tomioka’s tourism agency. The job worked perfectly for her, because it just so happened that her town’s top selling point (sakura) was also her primary passion. Sometimes, she even wore scarves made from dye of the sakura tree. She also knew the town’s history. Around 1900, a major landowner, Seiju Hangai, had planted several hundred cherry trees around town. A son later planted a thousand more, and on one stretch of road, he created a “tunnel” of trees, with rows on both

sides. Their branches arched over the road, as if trying to hold hands. This tunnel became Tomioka’s most famous road — the Sakura dori, as residents called it — and the town later redirected highway traffic so big trucks wouldn’t belch fumes at the trees. During Tomioka’s sakura festival weeks, Ooshima would work until 5:30. But she’d return to her house, make dinner for her kids and husband, and then they’d go on a walk through the tunnel. Lights positioned under the trees gave the scene an unforgettable pink glow. When the lights were turned off at 9 p.m., the Ooshima family went home. “The blossoms at night are very beautiful and elegant,” one of

NORIKO HAYASHI FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

A bus abandoned a year ago in Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis decays beside a persimmon tree in Tomioka, now contaminated by radiation. The town, famed for its cherry blossom trees, once drew more than 100,000 visitors with its annual festival.

Ooshima’s daughters wrote in her essay, published in the town’s book.

els change. Her home, she said, is in the area with the highest levels.

Return to Tomioka?

After evacuating, several thousand Tomioka residents ended up at an arena-like convention hall in Koriyama, a city in Fukushima farther from the nuclear plant. City workers set up temporary offices in the lower levels, and families created little private spaces, separated by cardboard, on the upper levels. Evacuees were awakened in the morning by public address announcements and given food boxes at fixed hours. Then, one day last April, the municipal workers received a package. It was filled with Tshirts, 50 of them, and each one had a pink logo across the chest: a cherry blossom. The message across the flower read, “Don’t For-

Ooshima has no idea whether she or her family will be able to, or have reason to, return to Tomioka. She lives now in a small secondfloor apartment in Ibaraki prefecture, about a one-hour train ride outside Tokyo. In Christmas cards she sent last December to friends, she mentioned her “dream” — that one day her children could return to their home town and see the cherry trees. But she also thinks about the return in more pragmatic terms. She is 50 years old. So is her husband, an architect who has already found work in Tokyo. Five years from now — if the town has managed to be decontaminated — would it really make sense to uproot the family once more? Could her husband run a sustainable business? “I think it’s hard to make any guess,” she said. “And also, how do you restore infrastructure? Waterlines? Electricity? There are no supermarkets in town, no hospitals, no convenience stores. It will take years to even restore the minimum lifelines.” During a recent afternoon at her new apartment in Ibaraki, Ooshima pulled out a map, created by Tomioka in 2008 to highlight viewing spots for the cherry trees. But this time, she talked about radiation levels. Japan’s government recommended evacuation for any area — even those beyond the 12-mile no-go zone — that would receive more than 20 microsieverts a year. In Tomioka, several areas have received four or five times that much. Many areas are right around the 20 microsievert level. A few are well below. “The town is basically divided into three parts,” Ooshima said, noting the way the radiation lev-

‘Don’t forget’

get. Return to Tomioka.” The workers loved them and passed them around. They had been shipped there by a graphic designer from Tokyo who grew up in Tomioka. Shigeki Sekine created the logo himself and paid for the screen printing; he didn’t have enough money to create another batch, as the city requested. But he did have enough money to print some stickers. In fact, he printed thousands of them, and he created a Web site to go with them. The stickers were plastered on the walls of cafes and music venues. A few ended up in London and New York and Taiwan. As the months went by, Sekine worried that it might not be realistic to return soon to Tomioka. On some stickers, he actually changed the message. “We will support Tomioka,” the new one

read. But he didn’t totally abandon the first message: Even if returning to Tomioka is impossible, residents should at least use that as their mind-set. At minimum, they should strive to return to the normalcy they felt in Tomioka. That means having conversations about kids and exam scores and boyfriends, not dosimeters and compensation payments. A year later, has that normalcy happened? “Far from it,” Sekine said. “One way to look at normalcy: I hope a day will come when people can look at cherry blossoms and not feel sad about it. Appreciating cherry blossoms is a sign of normalcy.” harlanc@washpost.com Special correspondent Ayako Mie contributed to this report.

Cultural treasures to grace celebration BY

I AN S HAPIRA

Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan’s ambassador to the United States, eagerly awaits the start of the National Cherry Blossom Festival this month in what is the centennial of the planting of Washington’s cherry trees, a gift from the city of Tokyo in 1912. But beyond the cherry blossoms — expected to reach peak bloom earlier than usual this year — Fujisaki is fixated on another source of emblematic beauty, one that will be on display from March 30 to April 29 at the National Gallery of Art: a set of 30 scrolls of 18th-century Japanese bird-and-flower paintings. The entire set has never left Japan. But in honor of the cherry trees’ 100th anniversary on the Tidal Basin, the Japanese government is lending the National Gallery the silk paintings for four weeks. After that, they return to the Imperial Household. “I have read so many books about these paintings and have seen so many pictures, and a great film, so I am excited to see the real ones,” Fujisaki said in an interview. “They are detailed and beautifully done and a favorite of a past emperor.” The 100th anniversary of the cherry trees is almost as notable for all the ceremonies, presenta-

Japan is lending the National Gallery of Art a 30-scroll set of 18th-century bird-andflower paintings for four weeks. tions and events taking place beyond the Tidal Basin as for the blossoms. The opening ceremony, on March 25 at the Washington Convention Center, will feature the traditional and surreal. The Children’s Chorus of Washington will sing the Japanese national anthem. (Coincidentally, the chorus recently welcomed a new executive director, Nao Tsurumaki, who is Japanese.) A group called Samurai Sword Soul will showcase — what else? — samurai sword fighting choreographed to rock music. Joan Gregoryk, founder and artistic director of the children’s chorus, said the group’s members — students from 12 to 18 years old — have had no trouble memorizing the Japanese national anthem. “To tell you the truth, we’ve been singing a lot of international

songs this year, since our theme is Scandinavian,” she said. “Compared to Finnish and Danish, singing the Japanese national anthem has been quite simple.” For Fujisaki, the entire festival reflects the great degree of trust behind the Japanese-U.S. relationship. “We are grateful to what Americans have done after 3/11,” he said, noting the date of last March’s earthquake in Japan. “A lot of Americans have gone out of their way — U.S. forces, U.S. schools and children.” Recently, Fujisaki wrote a Washington Post article about the history of the National Cherry Blossom Festival and told how, in 1912, first lady Helen Taft and the Japanese ambassador’s wife Viscountess Iwa Chinda planted the first saplings. In his research, Fujisaki said he was most struck by the generous reception given Tokyo’s mayor in 1950, just five years after World War II. “Even during World War II, only a few trees were cut down, and almost all were left intact. Some people in the U.S. were really angry at Japan that all these trees were kept,” Fujisaki said. “But when the Tokyo mayor was invited to Congress, he was honored for his country’s gift of the trees in 1912. He even read a Japanese poem.” shapirai@washpost.com

March 7 – September 3 | NGmuseum.org

Farragut North or West to 17th & M Streets NW


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Daily events MARCH 17 CORCORAN GALLERY OF ART KITE-MAKING WORKSHOP From 10 to noon. A kite-building expert will help you craft a kite for the kite festival. Materials provided. Registration required. Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 17th St. NW. 202-639-1700. www.corcoran.org. $20. “THE TSUNAMI AND THE CHERRY BLOSSOM” At 7:45. A screening of the Oscar-nominated film that links the disaster with the power of Japan’s most beloved flower. AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. 301-495-6720. www.afi.com/silver. $11.50, seniors, students and military $9, age 12 and younger $7.

MARCH 18 JAPANESE TEA PARTY From 2 to 4. For ages 5 to 10. Children receive a guided tour of the orchid exhibit and then learn more about Japanese gardens and tea houses as they sip tea. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Registration required. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW. 202-225-8333. www.usbg.gov. Free.

MARCH 20 PINK TIE PARTY From 7 to 11. The annual fundraiser, hosted by chefs Jose Andres and Roy Yamaguchi, features spring-, cherry- and blossom-inspired cuisine and cocktails. Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-347-3000. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. $200.

MARCH 21 HAIKU MEDITATION THERAPY FOR STRESS REDUCTION LECTURE From 1 to 3. Sirkku M. Sky discusses this method that has been inspired by the ancient Japanese poetry, focusing on action meditation. Reservations required. Art and Drama Therapy Institute, Walter Prichard Theater, 327 S St. SE. 202-635-1576. www.adtinet.com. Free.

aesthetic of Japan’s ancient decorative traditions. Materials supplied. Green Spring Gardens Park, 4603 Green Spring Rd., Alexandria. 703-642-5173. www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/gsgp. $38. JAPANESE CULTURE DAY From 10 to 3. Also on March April 14 from 10 to 3. An introduction to Japanese culture with origami, theater presentations, a kimono display and other activities. Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, 10 First St. SE. 202-707-4604. www.loc.gov. Free. “MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO” At 10:30. Also on March April 7 at 10:30. For age 6 and older. The Englishlanguage version of the 1988 Japanese movie about Satsuke and her younger sister, Mei, who move to a new home to be near their mother and discover a magical world of forest spirits. National Gallery of Art, East Building, Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 202-737-4215. www.nga.gov. Free. BLOSSOM KITE FESTIVAL From 10:30 to 4:30. Kiteflying demonstrations and competitions including Hot Tricks Showdown and Rokkaku Battle. Bring your own kite or make one at an activity station. Washington Monument, 15th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 877-442-5666. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. Free. CHERRY BLOSSOM TEA GATHERING AT IPPAKUTEI From 11 to 4. Traditional Japanese tea will be served at the former residence of the ambassador of Japan. Registration required. Old Residence of the Embassy of Japan, 2520 Massachusetts Ave. NW. 703-243-8608. $20. SAMURAI CINEMA At 11. A screening of three classics of Japanese cinema, all featuring Toshiro Mifune — “Samurai Rebellion” at 11, “The Hidden Fortress” at 1:30 and “The Sword of Doom” at 4:15. The films contain violent content. National Geographic, Grosvenor Auditorium, 1600 M St. NW. 202-857-7700. www.nationalgeographic.com/museum. $5 per film. BLOSSOM SECRETS STROLL At 2. Also on March April 7 and 14 at 2. Guided walking tour by Washington Walks features the stories and secrets behind the cherry blossoms. Smithsonian Metro Station, 1200 Independence Ave. SW. 202-484-1565. www.washingtonwalks.com. $15.

as part of “Overtures,” S&R Foundation’s Artist Concert Series. Each artist performs an existing composition that has been repurposed with a focus on the centennial. Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. 800-444-1324. www.kennedy-center.org. $20. DANA TAI SOON BURGESS & CO. At 8. Also on April 6 at 8. The modern dance company kicks off its 20th anniversary season with a performance featuring four critically acclaimed repertory works. The performance is in partnership with the National Cherry Blossom Festival. George Washington University, Marvin Center, 800 21st St. NW. 202-297-2436. www.dtsbco.com. $25, students $5.

APRIL 6 NATIONAL AQUARIUM TOTS & TALES At 10. Also on April 20 at 10. Children are introduced to the cherry blossom celebration and tradition with story time, science experiments, crafts and a tour of the aquarium. National Aquarium, Washington, Department of Commerce Building, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 202-482-2825. www.nationalaquarium.com. Free. GREEN SPRING GARDENS’ CHILDREN’S CHERRY BLOSSOM CELEBRATION See April 5. URBAN TANGO TRIO At 7:30. The group performs as part of “Overtures,” S&R Foundation’s Artist Concert Series. Each artist performs an existing composition that has been repurposed with a focus on the centennial. Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. 800-444-1324. www.kennedycenter.org. $20. DANA TAI SOON BURGESS & CO See April 5.

APRIL 7 “MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO” See March 31. CHERRY BLOSSOM YOGA At 10:30. Take a yoga class on the National Mall. Sylvan Theater, on the Washington Monument grounds near 15th Street and Independence Avenue SW. 202-518-4075. Free.

of Congress, Jefferson Building, 10 First St. SE. 202-707-4604. www.loc.gov. Free.

APRIL 12 CHERRY BLOSSOM PRINCESS LUNCHEON From 11:30 to 1. Featuring the U.S. and Japan Cherry Blossom Queens along with the princesses, the Dogwood queens and princesses and international guests from Japan. The keynote speaker is former Cherry Blossom Princess Shannon Vinson, a captain in the U.S. Air Force. Marriott Renaissance Hotel, 999 Ninth St. NW. 202-898-9000. www.statesocieties.org. $55, ages 2 to 12 $25, younger free. TASTE OF THE STATES From 6 to 8:30. Featuring the U.S. and Japan Cherry Blossom Queens and princesses as well as food and drink from every region of the country. Fort Myer Officers’ Club, Koran Room, 214 Jackson Ave., Arlington. www.statesocieties.org. $25. NATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL GALA DINNER CRUISE At 6. On the official dinner cruise of the festival, cruise past the cherry blossoms that line the Potomac while enjoying a three-course dinner, live entertainment and dancing. The Gangplank Marina, 600 Water St. SW. 202-661-7567. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. $125. YOKO OWADA At 6. One of Japan’s leading flutists performs. Kennedy Center, Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. 800-444-1324. www.kennedycenter.org. Free. “JAPAN’S NOH COSTUMES: AN AMERICAN APPRECIATION” From 6:30 to 9. As a result of the gift of the cherry trees, American collectors and museums grew enchanted by Japan’s noh costumes. Worn by actors for the performance of the poetic noh drama, these costumes are known for their exceptional quality. Joyce Denney, assistant curator at the Metropolitan Art Museum, discusses American collectors and the acquisitions. Registration required. Textile Museum, 2320 S St. NW. 202-667-0441. www.textilemuseum.org. $25. YU KOSUGE At 7:30. The pianist performs as part of “Overtures,” S&R Foundation’s Artist Concert Series.

MARCH 22 HANAMI, THE ART OF THE CHERRY BLOSSOM From 6 to 8. See the mansion’s cherry blossoms in full bloom, sip hanami rum fizz, taste an Asian-themed menu of savories and cherry treats and view a 19thcentury hanami-themed vase from Japan. Tudor Place, 1644 31st St. NW. 202-965-0400. www.tudorplace.org. $15.

MARCH 25 CHERRY BLOSSOM BIKE RIDE AND CYCLE EXPO From 10 to 2. Four 10-mile guided rides along the Capital Crescent Trail. Must preregister for ride. Rides are limited to 100 people per group. Sponsored by the American Diabetes Association. Georgetown Waterfront Park, Water Street from 31st Street to Key Bridge. 202-331-8303. www.diabetes.org/cherryblossom. Free. CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL FAMILY DAYS See March 24. NATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL OPENING CEREMONY From 5 to 6:30. Traditional and contemporary performances highlight the gift of the trees. Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Pl. NW. 877-442-5666. 202-249-3400. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. Free. CLASSICAL SOPRANO AND PIANO RECITAL At 6:30. Meri Siirala and Danielle Hahn perform works by Alma Maher, Kaija Saariaho and other female composers. National Gallery of Art, West Building Garden Court, 600 Constitution Ave. NW. 202-842-6941. 202-737-4215. www.nga.gov. Free.

ZUIHO TAIKO At 6. A group of taiko drummers with intellectual disabilities performs. Kennedy Center, Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. 800-444-1324. www.kennedy-center.org. Free. BLOSSOMS AND BASEBALL At 7:05. Watch the Washington Nationals play the Houston Astros on National Cherry Blossom Festival Night. Get discounted tickets by going to the Web site; $2 from each ticket benefits the Festival. Nationals Park, 1500 South Capitol St. SE. 202-675-6287. www.nationals.com/cherryblossom.

APRIL 18 RAKUGO At 6. A performance of the Japanese form of comedic storytelling, made possible in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan. Kennedy Center, Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. 800-444-1324. www.kennedy-center.org. Free.

NATIONAL AQUARIUM TOTS & TALES See April 6. CLAIRE HUANGCI At 12:10. Pianist performs works by Chopin, Tchaikovsky and others in honor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. National Gallery of Art, Ground floor lecture hall, 600 Constitution Ave. NW. 202-842-6941. www.nga.gov. Free.

APRIL 21

BILL O’LEARY/WASHINGTON POST

During the National Cherry Blossom Festival, you can opt to spend a quiet sunset under the blossoms or take in the trees with thousands of your closest friends. Events run from mid-March until the end of April; peak viewing is usually in early April. TAIKOZA At 4. A concert of Japanese music for traditional drums. National Gallery of Art, West Building, Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 202-737-4215. www.nga.gov. Free. ALEXANDRIA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA March 31 at 8 and April 1 at 3. Midori plays the Mendelssohn concerto during an ASO residency. Northern Virginia Community College, Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center, 3001 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria. 703-845-6156. www.nvcc.edu/schlesingercenter. www.alexsym.org. $40-$75, $5 ages 8 to 18.

APRIL 1

MARCH 30

APRIL 3

THE ART OF ITO JAKUCHU At 10. Japanese and American scholars present new research on the paintings of the Japanese artist and his contemporaries. National Gallery of Art, East Building, Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 202-737-4215. www.nga.gov. Free. CHERRY BLOSSOM 10-MILE RUN HEALTH AND FITNESS EXPO From noon to 7. Also on March 31 from 9 to 5. Free clinics and a variety of speakers as well a merchandise store. National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. 301-320-3350. www.cherryblossom.org. Free. SOUTHWEST CHAMBER PLAYERS CONCERT At 7:30. The world premiere of a piece commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, Sixth Street and Maine Avenue SW. 877-442-5666. www.southwestchamberplayers.org. Free.

SAMURAI ORCHIDS LECTURE AND TOUR From 6:30 to 8:30. Japanese orchid expert Jason Fischer discusses the history and culture of the Japanese fascination with their native orchids. Reservations required. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW. 202-225-8333. www.usbg.gov. Free.

CHERRY BLOSSOM SOCCER TOURNAMENT From 8 to 6. Also on April 1 from 8 to 2. Forty-eight co-ed adult teams compete in two divisions — casual and competitive. Organized by District Sports. West Potomac Park, West of 17th Street and south of Constitution Avenue NW. 877-442-5666. www.cherryblossomsoccer.org. Free to watch. CHERRY BLOSSOM RUGBY TOURNAMENT From 8 to 4:30. Also on April 1 from 8 to 4. The two-day competition features some of the best college and high school teams in the country. Rosecroft Raceway, 6336 Rosecroft Dr., Fort Washington. 800-686-9732. www.washingtonrugbyclub.org. Free to watch. CHERRY BLOSSOM 10-MILE RUN HEALTH AND FITNESS EXPO See March 30. CHERRY BLOSSOM FREEDOM WALK At 10. Commemorates and celebrates the Japanese American experience during World War II. Donations accepted. National Japanese American Memorial, D Street and New Jersey Avenue NW. 877-442-5666. www.ncbfreedomwalk.org. Free. SHOJI LAMP WORKSHOP At 10. Make a table lamp with wood and rice paper. Learn about the simple Zen

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APRIL 20

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CHERRY BLOSSOM LECTURE At noon. Ambassador John Malott, the president of Japan-America Society, discusses the 1912 gift of the cherry trees. Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, 10 First St. SE. 202-707-4604. www.loc.gov. Free. KYOGEN AND DAIDENGAKU At 6. The performance features Kyogen, a form of traditional Japanese comic theater, and Daidengaku, a form of traditional Japanese dance. Kennedy Center, Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. 800-444-1324. www.kennedy-center.org. Free. PHOTOGRAPHING JAPANESE GARDENS LECTURE From 6:30 to 8. Photographer David Cobb discusses the elements of style and the finer points of photographing Japanese gardens. Reservations required. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW. 202-225-8333. www.usbg.gov. Free.

MARCH 31

CASTLES IN THE SKY: MIYAZAKI, TAKAHATA AND THE MASTERS OF STUDIO GHIBLI From 11 to 9. The 10th annual anime marathon features four films: “Ponyo,” “Porco Rosso,” “Princess Mononoke” and “Spirited Away,” which won an Academy Award for best animated feature. Freer Gallery of Art, Meyer Auditorium, Jefferson Drive and 12th Street SW. 202-633-1000. asia.si.edu. Free. BILLY FOX AND THE KITSUNE ENSEMBLE At 11:30. For age 8 and older, an improvisational chamber group uses Western instruments in exploring Japanese folklore and performs “Amanogawa,” a contemporary work for Japanese flute and percussion. National Gallery of Art, East Building Concourse, Auditorium, Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 202-737-4215. www.nga.gov. Free. ANIME ARTISTS ENCOUNTER ARHATS See April 14. KITANODAI GAGAKU ENSEMBLE At 6. The group promotes Japanese culture through gagaku concerts, workshops and performances. Kennedy Center, Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. 800-444-1324. www.kennedy-center.org. Free.

100 YEARS OF KIMONOS From 6 to 9. See Hillwood’s Japanese-style garden by moonlight. Paul MacLardy, co-author of “Kimono-Vanishing Tradition,” gives a lecture on kimonos, which will be for sale at the trunk show. Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, 4155 Linnean Ave. NW. 202-686-5807. www.hillwoodmuseum.org. $20, $7 college students.

CHERRY BLOSSOM 10-MILE RUN At 7:30. The Runner’s Rite of Spring also includes a 5K run-walk and a half-mile kids’ run. The lottery for the 10-mile run and 5K has closed. Runners can still participate by raising $500 for the official race charity, Credit Unions for Kids. The fun run for kids is free. Washington Monument, 15th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 301-320-3350. www.cherryblossom.org. CHERRY BLOSSOM SOCCER TOURNAMENT See March 31. CHERRY BLOSSOM RUGBY TOURNAMENT See March 31. SPRING IN THE ASIAN COLLECTIONS From 10 to noon. Also on April 22 from 10 to noon. Horticulturist Chris Upton leads of tour of plants from China, Japan and Korea that cover 13 acres of hillside. Walks include steep and unpaved trails. U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave. NE. 202-245-2726. www.usna.usda.gov. $15. ANRAKU-MIYATA DUO At 11:30 and 6:30. For age 8 and older. Anraku, principal harpist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Miyata, sho artist, perform traditional Japanese and classical pieces. National Gallery of Art, West Building Garden Court, 600 Constitution Ave. NW. 202-842-6941. 202-737-4215. www.nga.gov. Free. ALEXANDRIA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA See March 31. HANAMI AFTER DARK From 5 to 8. An evening of sushi, sake, wine, art and music, in an indoor version of Hanami at night, a Japanese tradition of gathering to enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms. Receptionstyle celebration will feature Chef Toru Oga and his team of sushi masters. Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. 202-312-1552. $175, seniors and age 12 and younger $65.

MARCH 29

APRIL 15

APRIL 19

MARCH 24 KITES OF ASIA From 10 to 3. Experience the beauty and artistry of kites from across Asia. National Air and Space Museum, Sixth Street and Independence Avenue SW. 202-633-1000. www.nasm.si.edu. Free. CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL FAMILY DAYS From 10 to 4:30. Also on March 25 from 11 to 3:30. Hands-on activities, interactive art demonstrations and performances that celebrate spring and explore Japanese arts and design. National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. 877-442-5666. 202-272-2448. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. Free. “JAPANESE INFLUENCE ON AMERICAN CRAFT” From 10:30 to noon. James Renwick Alliance symposium. Moderator Halsey North with panelists Jack Lenor Larsen, Donald Friedlich, Wendy Maruyama and Judith S. Schwartz. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Eighth and F streets NW. 202-633-1000. www.americanart.si.edu. Free. CHERRY BLOSSOM CENTENNIAL STAMP DEDICATION CEREMONY At 10:30. The public is invited to the unveiling of the first-class forever stamp. National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. 202-272-2448. www.nbm.org. Free. JAPAN SPRING OPENING DAY CELEBRATION From 11 to 5. Celebrate the arrival of Japan Spring on the National Mall with bento boxes and tea available for purchase in the Sackler Pavilion from 11 to 2. A Hokusai-inspired family activity and a demonstration of the dramatic art of kabuki begins at 2. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. 202-633-1000. asia.si.edu. Free. THE ART OF KABUKI At 2. Traditional dance master Bando Kotoji demonstrates scenes from famous kabuki plays, offering special onstage instruction for some audience members. Freer Gallery of Art, Meyer Auditorium, Jefferson Drive and 12th Street SW. 202-633-1000. asia.si.edu. Free.

800-444-1324. www.kennedy-center.org. Free.

APRIL 4 CLASSICAL VIOLIN AND PIANO RECITAL At 12:10. Ayano Ninomiya and Timothy Lovelace perform works by Takemitsu and others. National Gallery of Art, West Building, Ground Floor Lecture Hall, Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 202-737-4215. www.nga.gov. Free. MAKI MORI At 7:30. The soprano performs as part of “Overtures,” S&R Foundation’s Artist Concert Series. Each artist performs an existing composition that has been repurposed with a focus on the centennial. Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. 800-444-1324. www.kennedycenter.org. $20.

APRIL 5 GREEN SPRING GARDENS’ CHILDREN’S CHERRY BLOSSOM CELEBRATION From noon to 4. Also on April 6 from noon to 4. Among the activities offered during this open house include origami and finding cherry trees in the garden. Green Spring Gardens Park, 4603 Green Spring Rd., Alexandria. 703-642-5173. www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/gsgp. $8. PHILLIPS AFTER 5: JOURNEY TO JAPAN From 5 to 8:30. Be inspired by Japan in an evening featuring gallery talks, language lessons and Japan-themed food and drink. Traditional Japanese kimonos are modeled by former Cherry Blossom queens and princesses. In collaboration with the Embassy of Japan, Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C. and the State Society of Washington, D.C. Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW. 202-387-2151. www.phillipscollection.org. $12, students and seniors $10. TAMAKI KAWAKUBO At 7:30. The violinist performs

SOUTHWEST WATERFRONT FIREWORKS FESTIVAL From 2 to 9. Three stages with live music and familyfriendly water-related activities. Fireworks begin at 8:30. Southwest Waterfront, Water Street SW. 877-442-5666. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. Free. BLOSSOM SECRETS STROLL See March 31. CHERRY BLOSSOM PRINCESS TEA From 3 to 5. Cherry Blossom princesses and queens will help future princesses make tiaras. Attendees are encouraged to dress as princesses and can take photos with the princesses and queens. Tea includes sandwiches, beverages, snacks and desserts. Marriott Renaissance Hotel, 999 Ninth St. NW. www.statesocieties.org. $35, ages 2 to 12 $25, younger free. CHERRY BLOSSOM FIREWORKS DINNER CRUISE At 5:30. Classic dinner cruise on the Spirit of Washington or Odyssey with a breathtaking view of the fireworks display. The Gangplank Marina, 600 Water St. SW. 866-306-2469. www.spiritofwashington.com. $99.90 Spirit of Washington; $124.90 Odyssey. NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE SOCIETIES CHERRY BLOSSOM OPENING RECEPTION From 7 to 10. Featuring the U.S. and Japan Cherry Blossom queens and the state, territory and international princesses. 20 F Street Conference Center, 20 F St. NW. www.statesocieties.org. $50, ages 12 to 2 $25, younger free. DC CRUISES CHERRY BLOSSOM FIREWORKS CRUISE At 7:15. A two-hour boat ride includes views of monuments at night and the fireworks display. No children younger than 7. Washington Harbour, 3050 K St. NW. 301-765-0750. www.dc-cruises.com. $68, ages 7 to 12 $58. ANDY AKIHO At 7:30. The percussionist performs as part of “Overtures,” S&R Foundation’s Artist Concert Series. Each artist performs an existing composition that has been repurposed with a focus on the centennial. Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. 800-444-1324. www.kennedycenter.org. $20.

APRIL 8 OFFICIAL JAPANESE STONE LANTERN LIGHTING CEREMONY From 2:30 to 4:30. The historic lantern is lit in a ceremony featuring traditional Japanese performers. Tidal Basin, circled by Independence Avenue, 15th Street SW and Ohio Drive. www.statesocieties.org. Free. SOICHI MURAJI At 7:30. The guitarist performs as part of “Overtures,” S&R Foundation’s Artist Concert Series. Each artist performs an existing composition that has been repurposed with a focus on the centennial. Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. 800-444-1324. www.kennedycenter.org. $20.

APRIL 9 HANAMI FESTIVAL — THROUGH THE EYES OF SENIORS At 6:30. Actors portray stories collected from seniors ages 85 to 105 who reminisce about memorable moments and events during the early years when the cherry blossom trees first arrived in Washington. Woolly Mammoth Theatre, 641 D St. NW. 843-636-6863. www.woollymammoth.net. $100.

APRIL 10 SAYAKA SHOJI At 7:30. The violinist performs as part of “Overtures,” S&R Foundation’s Artist Concert Series. Each artist performs an existing composition that has been repurposed with a focus on the centennial. Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. 800-444-1324. www.kennedycenter.org. $20.

APRIL 11 JACK STRING QUARTET RECITAL At 12:10. A performance of works by Hosokawa and Ives. National Gallery of Art, East Building, East Building Concourse, Auditorium, Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 202-842-6941. 202-737-4215. www.nga.gov. Free. JAPANESE WAY OF TEA From 12:30 to 2. A presentation of one of Japan’s oldest traditions, the way of Japanese tea, including introduction to and the history of tea ceremony, demonstration and serving of tea. Reservations required. Japan Information and Culture Center, 1150 18th St. NW. 202-238-6900. Free. CHERRY BLOSSOM PRINCESSES TALK From 1 to 2. Four princesses from 1948, 1974, 1981 and 2012 discuss their experiences. The 1981 princess is donating her collection of National Cherry Blossom Festival brochures to the Library of Congress. Library

Each artist performs an existing composition that has been repurposed with a focus on the centennial. Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. 800-444-1324. www.kennedycenter.org. $20.

APRIL 13 ORCHID INNOVATIONS IN THE ORIENT LECTURE From noon to 1. Tom Mirenda, Smithsonian Institution Orchid Collection specialist, shares the latest orchid innovations from his recent trip to Asia. Registration required. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW. 202-225-8333. www.usbg.gov. Free. CLASSICAL JAPANESE MUSIC CONCERT At 12:10. Flutist Yoko Owada, pianist Michael Langlois and percussionists Chris DeChiara and Eric Plewinski perform a Japanese musical meditation, latecomers not admitted. National Gallery of Art, Ground floor lecture hall, 600 Constitution Ave. NW. 202-842-6941. www.nga.gov. Free. JAPAN BOWL From 2 to 5. Japanese language and culture competition for American high school students. The championship round is free and open to the public, but reservations are preferred. National 4H Youth Conference Center, 7100 Connecticut Ave, Chevy Chase. 202-833-2210. www.usjapan.org/dc/japanbowl.php. Free. CHERRY BLOSSOM QUEEN CORONATION AND GRAND BALL At 6. Sushi reception, silent auction, performances by AVP, an all-male a cappella group from the University of Virginia, dancing to the 257th Army Band and a top-40 DJ. Marriott Renaissance Hotel, 999 Ninth St. NW. www.statesocieties.org. $150. SPY AT NIGHT From 6 to 11. Live a spy’s life at a special after-hours event with spy games, trivia and special tradecraft demonstrations including a ninja performance. International Spy Museum, 800 F St. NW. 202-393-7798. www.spymuseum.org. $19.95, seniors, military, law enforcement $14.95, ages 7 to 17 $13.95, younger free. TAMAGAWA UNIVERSITY TAIKO DANCE ENSEMBLE At 6. Japan’s top performing arts university performs Japanese dances. Kennedy Center, Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. 800-444-1324. www.kennedy-center.org. Free.

APRIL 14 FLOWERING CHERRIES: FROM ANCIENT JAPANESE FORESTS TO MODERN AMERICAN LANDSCAPES From 10 to noon. National Arboretum botanist Alan Whittemore lectures on how Japan’s early warlords, a fifth-century wave of immigration and political upheavals contributed to the flowering cherry tree becoming Japan’s official symbol of spring. Arboretum geneticist Margaret Pooler discusses the USDA’s role in the gift of the trees from Japan in 1912. Horticulturist David Kidwell-Slak leads a tour and discusses how to select, plant and care for the trees. U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave. NE. 202-245-2726. $15. NATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL PARADE From 10 to noon. Lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands and performers. Constitution Avenue between Seventh and 17th streets NW. 877-442-5666. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. $20 grandstand seating, free standing along route. GREEN SPRING GARDENS SPRING BLOSSOM GARDEN TOUR From 10 to 11:30. Master gardener docents lead a tour highlighting cherry trees and earlyspring blooms. In honor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, enjoy Japanese tea and sweets in the Historic House. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Rd., Alexandria. 703-941-7987. www.greenspring.org. $12. JAPANESE CULTURE DAY See March 31. JAPANESE STREET FESTIVAL From 11 to 6. The largest Japanese cultural festival in the United States features food, arts and culture, martial arts demonstrations and traditional and J-Pop performances on four stages. 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. 202-833-2210. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. $5, age 12 and younger free. BLOSSOM SECRETS STROLL See March 31. ANIME ARTISTS ENCOUNTER ARHATS At 2. Also on April 15 at 1. Part of Imaginasia family programs. Use a manga-style activity book to explore the exhibition “Masters of Mercy: Buddha’s Amazing Disciples” and then work with an anime artist to make anime and manga drawings. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. 202-633-1000. asia.si.edu. Free. TEN-CHI-JIN AND UFO FUROSAWA At 6. The Sakuyahime Cultural Delegation presents a program featuring music and dance of Japan. Kennedy Center, Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600.

LANTERN-MAKING FAMILY DAY From 10 to 2. Two sessions at 10 and noon followed by a showcase procession, entertainment, sushi and Japanese food for purchase. Rain date April 22. The Yards Park, Third and Water streets SE. 202-465-7080. www.capitolriverfront.org. Free. CHERRY BLOSSOM REGATTA From 11 to 4. Watch sailboats from DISC and International Sunfish Class Association race near Hains Point and East Potomac Park with cherry trees lining the shore. Rain date is April 22. Hains Point, 1090 Ohio Dr. SW. 202-445-6661. Free. “SUMMER WARS” At 11:30. Also on April 28 at 11:30. For age 12 and older. The English-language version of the 2009 Japanese movie about a high school student, Kenji, who is invited by his crush, Natsuki, to take a summer job in her hometown where he learns he is to pretend he is her fiance. National Gallery of Art, East Building, Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 202-737-4215. www.nga.gov. Free. JAPANESE ART AND CULTURE DAY From noon to 9. Workshops, demonstrations, performances and talks featuring Japanese art, culture, food and music. Double-feature of Japanese films ($5) begins at 4:30. Workhouse Arts Center, 9601 Ox Rd., Lorton. 703-584-2900. www.workhousearts.org. Free. BONSAI BASICS At 1. The class, taught by Jack FitzSimons, is designed to educate the novice on the basics of Bonsai. Green Spring Gardens Park, 4603 Green Spring Rd., Alexandria. 703-642-5173. www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/gsgp. $17. KYO-SHIN-AN ARTS At 6. The New York-based organization is dedicated to the integration of Japanese instruments into Western Classical music. Kennedy Center, Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. 800-444-1324. www.kennedycenter.org. Free. CHERRY BLAST: ART AND MUSIC DANCE PARTY From 9 to 1. A multi-sensory party with DJs and visual and performance artists. For age 21 and older, ID required. 2235 Shannon Pl. NW. 877-442-5666. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. $10.

APRIL 22 SPRING IN THE ASIAN COLLECTIONS See April 1. “THE THOUSAND-YEAR FIRE” At 11:30. Also on April 29 at 11:30. For age 9 and older. The 2004 Japanese movie is about 11-year-old Satoshi, who, mourning the loss of his parents, moves to a small seaside town and participates in Hiwatashi, a ritual swim in the open sea. In Japanese with English subtitles. National Gallery of Art, East Building, Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 202-737-4215. www.nga.gov. Free. WABI-SABI: EMBRACING IMPERFECTION From 1 to 3. Discover the Japanese art of finding beauty in the naturally imperfect world. Explore the philosophy of “making do” that resonates in austere times and its origins in the tea garden. Japanese tea and traditional sweets are served. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Rd., Alexandria. 703-941-7987. www.greenspring.org. $25. “HANEZU” At 4:30. A screening of the 2011 Japanese film about a delicate love triangle set in historic Asuka. National Gallery of Art, East Building, Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 202-842-6799. www.nga.gov. Free. NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART ORCHESTRA CONCERT At 6:30. Guest conductor Chosei Komatsu leads the ensemble and violinist Charles Wetherbee; music by Fujiwara, Hisaishi and Noadira. National Gallery of Art, West Building Garden Court, 600 Constitution Ave. NW. 202-737-4215. www.nga.gov. Free.

APRIL 25 ROBERT HENRY AND YOSHIKAZU At 12:10. The pianists perform music by Haydn, Scarlatti and Schubert in honor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. National Gallery of Art, Ground floor lecture hall, 600 Constitution Ave. NW. 202-842-6941. www.nga.gov.

APRIL 26 PM @ THE TM From 6 to 9. Bring a blanket or your tatami mat to this happy hour event and enjoy drinks, food and a film screening in the museum’s gardens. Inside, take part in gallery talks and a craft activity. Textile Museum, 2320 S St. NW. 202-667-0441. www.textilemuseum.org. $15.

APRIL 27 PETALFEST CLOSING BLOCK PARTY From 5 to 8. The festival’s closing event features performances, food and beverages. The 2012 Cherry Blossom Photo Contest winners are revealed. Woodrow Wilson Plaza, 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. 877-442-5666. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. Free.

APRIL 28 “SUMMER WARS” See April 21.

APRIL 29 “THE THOUSAND-YEAR FIRE” See April 22. KIOI SINFONIETTA TOKYO At 6:30. Thierry Fischer leads the ensemble and pianist Yu Kosuge. National Gallery of Art, West Building Garden Court, 600 Constitution Ave. NW. 202-842-6941. 202-737-4215. www.nga.gov. Free.


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BILL O'LEARY/THE WASHINGTON POST

S T P O E IV A T O R M E M M O

100 years of blooms

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ABCDE

The Official Book of the National Cherry Blossom Festival Centennial Celebration This delightful keepsake, beautifully illustrated with more than 150 photographs, tells the story of how the gift of trees from Japan to the U.S. is now the capital city’s greatest springtime celebration. It’s the perfect gift book for both locals and visitors.

Filled with engaging pictures and read-aloud text, young children and their families will enjoy learning more about these iconic trees that symbolize beauty, renewal, and international friendship.

To learn more about the festival, visit: nationalcherryblossomfestival.org Available wherever books are sold and at National Geographic, 1145 17th Street, NW. nationalgeographic.com/books


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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2012

CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 2012

Ongoing events

1. “100 YEARS OF JAPANESE KIMONO” Through April 30. The exhibit examines the evolution of kimono-making. In conjunction with the exhibit, a three-day fundraiser will take place in the hotel’s Corcoran Room April 4 from 5 to 8; April 5-6 from noon to 8. Kimonos, accessories, jewelry and other Japanese items will be on sale. Paul MacLardy will sign copies of his book, “Kimono, Vanishing Tradition.” Benefits the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C. Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 1330 Maryland Ave. SW. 877-442-5666. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. Free. 2. “2:46 AND THEREAFTER” Through March 25. Works in a variety of media, highlighting emerging Japanese artists’ responses to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan. Edison Place Gallery, 702 Eighth St. NW. 202-483-1102. www.transformerdc.org. Free. 3. AFTERNOON CHERRY BLOSSOMS AT THE TIDAL BASIN PHOTO TOUR Various dates March 24-April 8 from 3 to 5:30. Washington Photo Safari leads tours of the trees with an orientation on travel photography and camera use. Open to photographers at any skill level with any kind of camera. FDR Memorial Bookstore, West Potomac Park. 202-537-0937. www.washingtonphotosafari.com. $64. 4. ALL-DIGITAL CHERRY BLOSSOM SUNRISE SPECIAL PHOTO TOUR March 28, 30, April 4 and 6 from 6:15 to 8:30. Professional digital photographer Melanie Otto helps adjust those macro settings for blossom close-ups. Tidal Basin Boathouse, 1501 Maine Ave. SW. 202-537-0937. www.washingtonphotosafari.com. $109. 5. “ART OF DARKNESS: JAPANESE MEZZOTINTS FROM THE HITCH COLLECTION” April 7-July 8. Approximately 20 prints and copperplates show Japanese artists’ innovative uses of the European technique of mezzotint. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. 202-633-1000. asia.si.edu. Free. 5. BEFORE DAWN April 21-22, 28-29 at 2. Part of the ImaginAsia family program. Create a printing block out of Styrofoam then use blue pigments to print landscapes like those of Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. Freer Gallery of Art, Jefferson Drive and 12th Street SW. 202-633-1000. asia.si.edu. Free. 6. BEYOND THE TIDAL BASIN: INTRODUCING OTHER GREAT FLOWERING TREES March 20-April 27. Drive, bike or walk through a self-guided tour of the arboretum’s diverse collection of cherries, including two new varieties developed by arboretum scientists. Brochures available at the visitor center. U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave. NE. 202-245-2726. www.usna.usda.gov. Free. 7. BLOSSOMS BITES BY BIKE TOUR March 23-24, 30-31, April 6-7, 13-14, 20-21 and 27 at 4. Bike and Roll and DC Metro Food Tours team up for a three-hour food and bike tour centered on the cherry blossoms. Enjoy tastings from three top D.C. eateries as you cycle through Dupont Circle, U Street and Logan Circle neighborhoods. Reservations required. Fee includes guide, bike rental, cherry-themed bites and a bottle of water. Not recommended for children. Old Post Office Pavilion, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. 202-683-8847. www.bikethesites.com. $79. BLOSSOMS BY BIKE RIVER RIDE March 24-25, 30-April 1, April 6-8, 13-15 at 1. Bike and Roll leads a three-hour, 15-mile ride along the Mount Vernon Trail from Old Town Alexandria to the District. Must be at least 13 years old. Bike and Roll Shop, One Wales Alley, Alexandria. 703-548-7655. www.bikethesites.com. $42.

marching bands and more. Sylvan Theater, on the Washington Monument grounds near 15th Street and Independence Avenue SW. 877-442-5666. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. Free.

with the rural caretakers of this once popular art form. The performance features original shamisen compositions created and performed live by authorized master musician Yumiko Tanaka. Source, 1835 14th St. NW. 202-204-7800. www.sourcedc.org. $35-$60.

11. CHERRY BLOSSOM SIGHTSEEING CRUISES March 24-26, 28-April 8 at 1:45 and 3:45. Take a 45-minute boat tour around Hains Point and see up-close views of the cherry blossoms. Gangplank Marina, 600 Water St. SW. 866-302-2469. www.spiritofwashington.com. $23.21, ages 3 to 12 $18.75.

5. “HOKUSAI: MAD ABOUT PAINTING” Through July 29. Works by the great Japanese woodblock printmaker (1760-1849). Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. 202-633-1000. asia.si.edu. Free. 6. IKEBANA INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION April 6-22 from 10 to 4. The local chapter of Ikebana International exhibits flower arrangements representing Ikebana schools, from traditional to contemporary. The installation will change three times during the exhibit. Master teachers will give free Ikebana demonstrations on April 14, 15, 21 and 22 from 1 to 2:30. U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave. NE. 202-245-2726. www.usna.usda.gov. Free.

4. CHERRY BLOSSOMS AT SUNRISE PHOTO TOUR March 26-27, 29, 31-April 1, April 5, 7-8 from 6:15 to 8:30. Washington Photo Safari leads a tour of the trees during the early morning hours. Tidal Basin Boathouse, 1501 Maine Ave. SW. 202-537-0937. www.washingtonphotosafari.com. $69. 12. “COLORFUL REALM: JAPANESE BIRDAND-FLOWER PAINTINGS BY ITO JAKUCHU (1716-1800)” March 30-April 29. A rare set of 18th-century scrolls is on display following a six-year restoration, the first time all 30 paintings have been on view in the United States. National Gallery of Art, West Building, Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 202-737-4215. www.nga.gov.

“JAPAN’S GIFT TO NATURE: ORIENTAL BRUSH PAINTING” Through April 29. Darlene Kaplan displays more than 100 works of her Sumi-e paintings. Artist reception on March 25 from 1 to 3. Green Spring Gardens, Historic House, 4603 Green Spring Rd., Alexandria. 703-941-7987. www.greenspring.org. Free.

13. DC CRUISES CHERRY BLOSSOM RIVER TOUR March 31, April 1, 6 starting at 11:40; April 7, 8, 9 starting at 10:40; April 14-15 starting at 12:40. A 50-minute boat ride beside the cherry trees and monuments. No children younger than 4. DC Cruises, 1100 Maine Ave. SW. 301-765-0750. www.dc-cruises.com. $22, ages 4 to 12 $16.

15. JAPANESE DIVAS FILM SERIES April 6, 20-21 and 28 at 2:30, April 7 at 2 and 4, April 8 and 29 at 4:30, April 15 at 4, May 4 at 2 and May 5 at 1 and 3:30. Screenings of films from the 1940s and 1950s featuring lead actresses from the golden age of Japanese cinema, including Kinuyo Tanaka, Isuzu Yamada, Machiko Kyo, Setsuko Hara and Hideko Takamine. National Gallery of Art, East Building, Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 202-737-4215. www.nga.gov. Free.

14. “DOGUGAESHI” April 11-15, 17-22. Puppeteer Basil Twist takes the audience on a journey of images and emotions influenced by the tradition of Japanese dogugaeshi stage mechanism technique and his own encounters

16. JAZZ AT THE JEFFERSON April 19-22 at noon. Local and regional jazz artists perform.

9. “CHERRY BLOSSOM CLOUD” March 20April 27. Charles Juhasz-Alvarado uses cherry wood to create a temporary public sound sculpture that celebrates the gift of the trees. Part of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ 5x5 Temporary Public Art Project. Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW. 202-724-5613. dcarts.dc.gov. Free. 10. CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE STAGE April 1-5, 8-12 and 15 from noon to 5 and April 6-7, 13-14 from noon to 6. Music, dance, martial arts, exhibitions,

17. LANTERN WALKS March 24-25, 28, 31April 1, April 4, 7-8, 11, 14-15 from 8 to 10. National Park Service rangers lead a two-hour, two-mile tour around the Tidal Basin. Tidal Basin, National Park Service Welcome Tent, circled by Independence Avenue, 15th Street SW and Ohio Drive. 202-426-6841. www.nps.gov/cherry. Free. 18. “MARATHON” March 20-April 1. Cath Campbell’s work is an ode to the Kwanzan cherry tree, a reference to the temple on Mount Hiei, home to the “Marathon Monks.” Part of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ 5x5 Temporary Public Art Project. The Yards Park, Third and Water streets SE. 202-724-5613. dcarts.dc.gov. Free. 5. “MASTERS OF MERCY: BUDDHA’S AMAZING DISCIPLES” Through July 8. Kano Kazunobu’s phantasmagoric paintings reflect the lives and deeds of the Buddha’s 500 disciples, which have never before been displayed outside Japan. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. 202-633-1000. www.asia.si.edu. Free. 11. NATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL CRUISES March 24 and 31 at 10:45 and 7, March 25 at 10:45 and 5, March 26 at 6, March 27 at 11:15 and 6, March 28-29 and April 2 at 11:15, March 30, April 4-6 at 11:15 and 7 and April 1 and 7 at 10:45. Odyssey offers lunch, brunch and dinner cruises. Gangplank Marina, 600 Water St. SW. 866-306-2469. www.odysseycruises.com. $50.90-$114.90. 11. NATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL CRUISES March 24 at 11 and 7:30, March 25 and April 1 at 11 and 5:30, March 26, 29, April 2-4 at 11:30, March 27-28 and April 5 at 11:30 and 6:30, March 30 and April 6 at 11:30 and 7:30 and April 7 at 11. Spirit of Washington offers lunch and dinner cruises. Gangplank Marina, 600 Water St. SW. 202-554-5000. www.spiritofwashington.com. $42.90-$89.90. 3. NATIONAL PARK RANGER-LED CHERRY TALKS March 24-April 15 at 11, 1, 3 and 5. National Park Service rangers speak on a variety of cherry blossom topics. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, 900 Ohio Drive NW. 202-426-6841. www.nps.gov/cherry. Free.

8. BLOSSOMS BY BIKE March 24-25, 30-April 1, April 6-8, 13-15 at 2. Bike and Roll leads a two-hour, seven-mile tour of the cherry trees around the Potomac Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park. Union Station, 50 Massachusetts Ave. NE. 202-289-1908. www.bikethesites.com. $35, children $25. CELEBRATING JAPANESE ART & CULTURE March 25-April 25. American University will feature Ukiyo-e prints from its Charles Nelson Spinks collection depicting actors, famous places, geisha, nature scenes and landscapes by Hiroshige, Hokusai and other artists. American University, Katzen Arts Center, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW. 202-885-3237. www.american.edu/katzen. Free.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial, 900 Ohio Dr. SW. 877-442-5666. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. Free.

16. NATIONAL PARK RANGER-LED CHERRY TALKS March 24-April 15 at 11, 1, 3 and 5. National Park Service rangers speak on a variety of cherry blossom topics. Thomas Jefferson Memorial, 900 Ohio Dr. SW. www.nps.gov/cherry. Free.

THE WASHINGTON POST

washingtonpost.com/cherryblossoms

A.J. Chavar and Information Designer Patterson Clark take you D Videojournalist through an illustrated science lesson on cherry blossoms. Bloom updates: Stay informed about when the best time to see the Cherry Blossoms will be and utilize the bloom calendar.

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Historic photos: See galleries of festivals and blooms from previous years.

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Cherry blossom quiz: What do g you really know about the annual rituals?

Audio guide: Download a podcast

highlights of the Tidal Basin N toandhearbeyond as you tour the area. Events calendar: Check out the G events calendar for standing and daily events as they are announced and updated. Go to washingtonpost.com/gog and search for cherry blossom.

19. “ORCHID MYSTIQUE: NATURE’S TRIUMPH” Through April 29. A display of orchids from around the world. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW. 202-225-8333. www.usbg.gov. Free. 20. “SAKURA: CHERRY BLOSSOMS AS LIVING SYMBOLS OF FRIENDSHIP” March 20-Sept. 15. Works from the library’s collection — including watercolor drawings, Japanese color-woodblock prints and books, photographs, editorial cartoons and posters — illuminate the story of the trees, their historical significance and their continuing resonance in American culture. Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, 10 First St. SE. 202-707-4604. www.loc.gov. Free. 21. “SAMURAI: THE WARRIOR

TRANSFORMED” Through Sept. 3. The exhibit examines how the samurai went from being a feudal military class to serving as a vehicle for building bridges with the West. National Geographic, 17th and M streets NW. 202-857-7588. www.nationalgeographic.com/museum. $8, seniors and military $6, ages 5 to 12 $4. 22. “SERENITY IN SILK: WORLD OF NUIDO COLLECTION” Through April 2. Japanese Embroidery Center presents an exhibition that showcases the art, beauty and culture of a Japanese embroidery technique that goes back 1,600 years. Japan Information and Culture Center, 1150 18th St. NW. 202-238-6900. Free. 23. “SONG 1: HIRSHHORN 360-DEGREE PROJECTION” March 22-May 13. The Hirshhorn’s “Suprasensorial: Experiments in Light, Color and Space” — a survey of the evolving light and space movement symbolized by bold, large-scale multimedia installations — opened Feb. 23. But it’s what will be happening outside the Hirshhorn that’s more likely to catch your eye: Artist Doug Aitken will use 11 high-definition projectors to cast colors and moving images as a sheath of “liquid architecture” onto the circular building’s exterior nightly for two months. Observers won’t be able to fully absorb the work without walking the edifice’s perimeter. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Seventh Street and Independence Avenue SW. 202-633-1000. www.hirshhorn.si.edu. Free. 24. SPY CHERRY BLOSSOM SCVNGR March 20-April 27. Download SCVNGR on your smartphone and start completing challenges that combine cherry blossoms and the world of espionage. International Spy Museum, 800 F St. NW. 202-393-7798. www.spymuseum.org. Free. 5. “TATEBANKO: JAPANESE PAPER DIORAMAS” March 24-25, 31-April 1 at 2. Part of the ImaginAsia family program. Use an activity guide to explore “Hokusai: 36 Views of Mount Fuji” and then create a layered miniature diorama (tatebanko) using images of Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai’s landscape prints. Freer Gallery of Art, Jefferson Drive and 12th Street SW. 202-633-1000. asia.si.edu. Free. 4. TIDAL BASIN PADDLE BOAT RIDES Through Sept. 3 from 10-6. During the Cherry Blossom Festival, advance reservations can be made for times between 10 and noon. Tidal Basin, circled by Independence Avenue, 15th Street SW and Ohio Drive. 202-479-2426. www.tidalbasinpaddle boats.com. $12-$19 per hour. 25. “TIMELINE — RON BLUNT PHOTOGRAPHY” March 23-April 20. A collection of large-scale blossom photographs showcasing new printing technologies and materials. Fathom Creative, 1333 14th St. NW. 202-340-4714. Free. 5. TWO ARTISTS, TWO SERIES, ONE MODERN SOCIETY March 30-April 3, April 5-10, 12-17, 19-24, 26, May 1, May 3-8, 10-15, 17-22, 24-29, 31, June 5, June 7-12, 14-17 at noon and 2. Explore in two exhibitions — “Hokusai: 36 Views of Mount Fuji” and “Masters of Mercy: Buddha’s Amazing Disciples” — how Katsushika Hokusai and Kano Kazunobu observed the clash and complementary of tradition and radical change in a culture thrust into modernity. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. 202-633-1000. www.asia.si.edu. Free.


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Japan Spring

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National Gallery of Art

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Colorful Realm: Japanese Bird-and-Flower Paintings by It Jakuch (1716–1800)

Hokusai: 36 Views of Mount Fuji

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Opening Celebration f r i day, m a rc h 3 0

The Art of It Jakuch , conference, 10 am–5 pm sat u r day, m a rc h 3 1

My Neighbor Totoro, family film, 10:30 am Taikoza drummers, performance, 4 pm su n day, a p r i l 1

Anraku-Miyata Duo, family activity, 11:30 am; concert, 6:30 pm Sixth and Constitution Avenue NW visit nga.gov This exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, The Imperial Household Agency, and Nikkei Inc., in association with the Embassy of Japan. It has been made possible through the generous support of Toyota, Nikkei Inc., Airbus, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art. Additional sponsorship from Japan has been provided by Daikin Industries, Ltd., Ito En, Ltd., Mitsubishi Corporation, and Panasonic Corporation. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Detail: It Jakuch , Peonies and Butterflies (J. Shakuyaku gunch zu), c. 1757 (H reki 7), ink and color on silk, from Colorful Realm of Living Beings (J. D shoku sai-e), set of 30 vertical hanging scrolls, c. 1757–1766, Sannomaru Sh z kan (The Museum of the Imperial Collections), The Imperial Household Agency.

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Masters of Mercy: Buddha’s Amazing Disciples m a rc h 10 –j u ly 8, 20 1 2

Opening Celebration sat u r day, m a rc h 24

Edo period music, cherry blossom origami, bento boxes and tea for purchase, 11 am–2 pm The Art of Kabuki: Bando Kotoji, performance, 2 pm (free tickets required) Tatebanko: Japanese Paper Dioramas, ImaginAsia family program, 2 pm 1050 Independence Avenue SW visit asia.si.edu/sackler25 follow #JapanSpringDC on Twitter Masters of Mercy: Buddha’s Amazing Disciples is organized by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Z j ji and Nikkei Inc. in collaboration with Asano Laboratories Inc. Funding for the exhibition is provided by The Anne van Biema Endowment Fund. Detail: The Great Wave at Kanagawa (from a Series of Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji); Japan, Edo period, c. 1830–1832; polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper; published by Eiudo. H. O. Havemeyer Collection, bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (JP1847); © The Metropolitan Museum of Art; image source: Art Resource, NY.

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The Washington Post Cherry Blossom Special Section 2012