Tokens of Friendship (4) – Blossoms of Diplomacy
Friendship Day celebrations occur on different dates in different countries. The first World Friendship Day was proposed for 30 July 1958. On 27 April 2011 the General Assembly of the United Nations declared July 30 as official International Friendship Day. However, some countries, including the USA and India, celebrate Friendship Day on the first Sunday of August.
When we care about a friend, it seems natural to have the urge to show it to them by means of a gift or token. This week I bring you Tokens of Friendship.
3,000 Cherry Trees
A Token of Friendship
To: the USA
Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries.
In a simple ceremony on March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees from Japan on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park. Between the governments of the two countries, coordination by Dr. Jokichi Takamine, a world-famous chemist and the founder of Sankyo Co., Ltd. (today know as Daiichi Sankyo), Dr. David Fairchild of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Eliza Scidmore, first female board member of the National Geographic Society, and First Lady Helen Herron Taft, the trees arrived in Washington.
A first batch of 2,000 trees arrived diseased in 1910, but did not deter the parties. Just two years later in 1912, new trees arrived and were planted. These are the trees that now turn the Tidal Basin into a cloud of pink each spring for all to enjoy.
In 1915, the United States Government reciprocated with a gift of flowering dogwood trees to the people of Japan. A group of American school children reenacted the initial planting and other activities, effectively holding the first “festival” in 1927. The Festival grew again in 1935, sponsored by civic groups in the nation’s capital.
First Lady Lady Bird Johnson accepted 3,800 more trees in 1965. In 1981, the cycle of giving came full circle. Japanese horticulturists were given cuttings from the trees to replace some cherry trees in Japan which had been destroyed in a flood. The Festival was expanded to two weeks in 1994 to accommodate a diverse activity schedule during the blooming period. Today, more than a million people visit Washington, DC each year to admire the blossoming cherry trees and attend events that herald the beginning of spring in the nation’s capital.(Info Source)
3,000 Dogwood Trees
A token of Friendship and Gratitude
100 years after receiving
the 3,000 cherry blossoms from Japan
US and Japanese leaders have come and gone, as has a horrific world war that interrupted the two countries’ relations, but for 100 years the flowering cherry trees of Washington’s tidal basin have stood – and blossomed every spring – as a testament to US-Japan friendship.
The United States is giving Japan 3,000 dogwood trees – a thank-you for the 3,000 cherry blossoms which bloom each spring in Washington, DC. Now, a century after Japan presented the people of the United States with 3,000 cherry trees, the US is reciprocating by presenting Japan with 3,000 dogwood trees to be planted in a Tokyo park.