By Georgia Slater
Every year since 1927, the National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place in Washington, D.C. The event commemorates Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki’s 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the United States.
The festival has become one of the nation’s most prominent springtime celebrations. It spans four weekends — this year from March 20 to April 16 — and typically draws more than 1.5 million people to enjoy a vast collection of diverse programming and beautiful views, according to its website.
The Opening Ceremony, scheduled for March 25 at 5 p.m., kicks off the Festival. The ceremony is the prime time for viewers to celebrate the season and unite the city, region, nation and world through both great American and Japanese talent and culture.
One aspect of the ceremony include the traditional and contemporary performances shown in the historic Warner Theatre. In essence, it is a ceremony that symbolizes birth and renewal, just as the trees do in both Japan and the U.S.
Sophomore government and politics major Jenn Miller has enjoyed the festival ever since she went as a child.
“My father always instilled a sense of patriotism in my sister and me, and going to the festival was definitely a testament to his desire to keep us informed about U.S. history and current politics,” Miller said. “I remember walking among the trees as my dad told us the story of how exactly they arrived in Washington, D.C.”
This season, the festival has brought in a diverse group of performers from around the world. The lineup includes Shigeyama Kyogen, a type of traditional Japanese theater; EL Squad, a contemporary dance group whose “Light Dance” that incorporates dance, music and electroluminescent technology has gone viral; May J, a multilingual J-pop artist; and The 6821 Quintet, an orchestral group created by the Ryuji Ueno Foundation.
Miller hopes to return to the Festival this season to enjoy this scenic and spiritual experience.
“Even on gloomy days in D.C., the petals during the festival are always shining,” she said.