The Story of Cherry trees in Washington D.C.
Cherry blossoms are enhancing  the friendship between the U.S. and Japan.
 ( Revised on March 24 2002, January7.2017)

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       In Washington D.C., the capital of the United States of America, there are famous cherry trees along the Potomac river which were a gift from Japan. 
 Thousands of residents and visitors used to visit here on the occasion of the Cherry Blossom Festival. It became an annual week-long event at the peak of the bloom, the end of March and into April.
   Many events were organized and sponsored by civic groups, and  one of the highlight events used to be the selection of the Cherry  Blossom Princess from every state.   Please refer to the home page of the National Park Service in Washington D.C.. 

 I am happy to inform you that the stocks of these trees were produced in Itami in 1910. The history of the cherry trees is that the scions of these trees were taken from a famous collection on the bank of the Arakawa River in Adachi Ward,Tokyo. At the request of the Tokyo government, all of the stocks of wild cherry root for grafting those scions were prepared at Higashino village which is located in the north of Itami city.
I am proud of these historical facts, that the "roots" of the cherry trees are related to our city history and wish to keep these historical assets for the next generation to wish everlasting friendship between the United States of America and Japan.

   I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all members of the group "GLIMPSE"  who are investigating the history of our home town.

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The following articles are summary from the Japanese pages.

Refer to the Japanese web site (Click here)

This is the letter which Mrs. Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore wrote to the first lady in 1909.She kept requesting her proposal over 24 years.

The White House, Washington.

April 7, 1909
Thank you very much for your suggestion about the cherry trees. I have taken the matter up and am promised the trees, but I thought perhaps it would be best to make an avenue of them, extending down to the turn in the road, as the other part (beyond the railroad bridge ) is still too rough to do any planting. Of course, they could not reflect in the water, but the effect would be very lovely of the long avenue. Let me know what you think about this.
Sincerely yours,

Helen H. Taft     

Special thanks to group "GLIMPSE" forthe use of  these pictures.kubo.jpg (269842 バイト)

This picutre is a nursing field of cherry trees in front of  Mr.Kubo's house.  He had undertaken preparing 15,000 cherry tree stocks for grafting the scions.(Dated  Oct. 1910)

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  This cabin was utilized for the disinfection of hydrocyanic vapor used to  avoid the insect infestations and other diseases.  Today a community hall is in their palce.  April 8, the day after Mrs. Taft's letter of April 7, Dr. Jokichi Takamine, the Japanese chemist famous as the discoverer of adrenaline and takadiastase, was in Washington with Mr. Midzuno, Japanese consul in New York and when told that Washington was to have Japanese cherry trees planted along the Speedway, asked whether First Lady Taft would accept a donation of an additional 2,000 trees to fill out the area. Mr. Midzuno thought it was a fine idea and suggested that the trees be given in the name of the city of Tokyo. Dr. Takamine and Mr. Midzuno met with First Lady Taft, who accepted the offer of the 2,000 trees.

August 30, the Japanese Embassy informed the Department of State that the City of Tokyo intended to donate 2,000 cherry trees to the United States to be planted along the Potomac River.
December 10, 2,000 cherry trees arrive in Seattle from Japan.
1910 - January 6, trees arrive in Washington, DC
January 19, To everyone's dismay, an inspection team for the Department of Agriculture found the trees were infested with insects and nematodes and other diseases. and the department of agriculture concluded that the trees had to be burned.

 Therefore, the Tokyo city government tried to find  suitable trees for export to Washington D.C,  Eventually, our trees were shipped from Yokohama to Seattle in February,1912.

From the website of National Park Service The description of following articles was quoted from pages. 

Dr. Takamine again donated the costs for the trees, whose number had now increased to 3,020. The scions for these trees were taken in December 1910 from the famous collection on the bank of the Arakawa River in Adachi Ward, a suburb of Tokyo, and grafted on specially selected understock produced in Itami City, Hyogo Prefecture.

1912: February 14, 3,020 cherry trees of 12 varieties were shipped from Yokohama on board the S.S. Awa Maru, bound for Seattle. Upon arrival, they were transferred to insulated freight cars for the shipment to Washington.

March 26: 3,020 cherry trees arrive in Washington, DC. The trees were comprised of the following varieties:

"Somei-Yoshino" ........................................1,800

(The Gyoiko were all planted on the White House Grounds)

March 27, First Lady Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin, about 125 feet south of what is now Independence Avenue, SW. The first two trees planted were Yoshino cherry trees. At the conclusion of the ceremony, First Lady Taft presented a bouquet of "American Beauty" roses to Viscountess Chinda. Washington's renowned Cherry Blossom Festival had its inception in this simple ceremony, witnessed by only a few persons. These two original trees are still standing today several hundred yards west of the John Paul Jones statue at the south end of 17th Street. Located at the bases of the trees are large bronze plaques which commemorate the occasion.

In 1915 a delegation from the U.S. presented  40 dogwood trees to Tokyo city in return for the 3000 cherry trees.  The 80th anniversary of  the goodwill plants was held in 1996.

This is a news paper article(Japan times March 8 1996) .

  In celebration of the 80th anniversary of the arrival of goodwill plants from the U.S., Tokyo will host a two-day festival next month to promote the significance of the role the gifts had in enhancing amicable bilateral relations, organizers said March 8.

The American Dogwood 80th Anniversary Festival will be sponsored by the festival committee, along with the Ozaki Yukio Memorial Foundation, the Japan Cherry Blossom Association and the Japan-America Society. It will take place at Kensei Kinen hall in Tokyo's Nagata-cho district on April 26 and 27.
Dogwoods were first introduced to Japan in 1915 by the U.S. government in return for 3,000 cherry trees presented toWashington by Tokyo Gov. Yukio Ozaki in 1912, according to the committee. Ever since,Washington's cherry trees have been nurtured by American citizens -- even through World War II -- and Potomac Park is now noted for its cherry blossoms. Prince Tomohito, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, U.S. Ambassador Walter Mondale, Tokyo Gov. Yukio Aoshima and other noted figures will participate in the opening and in tree-planting ceremonies on the first day of the festival. More than 1,000 people from both Japan and the U.S., promoting dogwoods, cherry trees and friendship between the two countries will attend the two-day event. The festival also will feature concerts, film shows and tanka and haiku recitals.


 The original 20 young dogwood trees were brought to Itami by the members of the group "GLIMPSE" in appreciation for those cherry trees.

  Special thanks to the Tokyohorticulture high school for the presentation of the original trees. 

   On February 20th planting ceremony of a dogwood tree was held with honoured of the presence of Mr.Frederic Maerkle, consul general of the United States of America at the "OGINO" elementary school where is in the"Higashino" village.

Dogwood tree planting ceremony 

at"OGINO" elementary  school on February 20th 1999 9:00 a.m.
Speaker of Itami city assembly, Mayor of Itami, F.Maerkle (Consul General) 

School children and Mr.F.Maerkle. 

Principal of elementary .school, children and Mr.Uchibori(Member of GLIMPSE) 

Unveiling the monument of dogwood

(Click Enlarge)

At the lunch time, commemoration party held at Itami Daiich Hotel, and we had an opportunity to hear the keynote speech of "Cherry trees in Washington D.C." from Consul general.

All of the attendants were surprised and enlighted to hear his speech in fluent Japanese. We wish to become more deepen our good relationship between the U.S. and Japan and we would like to insist strongly to all American people in accordance with historical facts of our home town that these original tree stocks were shipped from Itami..

Click here, Refer to the following description (Quoted from History of the Cherry trees - National Park Service in Washington D.C.)
(The scions for these trees were taken in December 1910 from the famous collection on the  bank of the Arakawa River in Adachi Ward, a suburb of Tokyoand grafted on wild cherry root stock

However, we would like to insist on the historical facts to all peopleabout the cherry trees .

Please  keep in mind that theCherry trees at Washington D.C. did not grafted on wild cherry rootstock,  In fact those treesgrafted  on our raised planting stocks from Itami .
    The planted tree of dogwood at the school bloomed with white flowers
on May 2000 . (above left picture)   
         Additional Remarks!!
  I am very pleased to introduce all people of Itami that the left documet which I marked up the lines were described,"Should be order the root stocks(understock) to Mr.Buhei Kubo, Kawabe-gun(province) Hyogo prefecture", whom I have mentioned on this page. The document was found at the Mr.Ozaki Yukio( former Mayor of Tokyo) memorial hall in Tokyo. Kawabe-gun was so called an old name of Itami city and vicinity area.

  This document was written by Professor Y.Kumagaya, horticulturist of the Imperial Horticultural Station of Okitsu as a report draft for "General report of nursing seeding for sending to the United States of America". This is a one of the obviious proof items that our city Itami was a birth place of root stock of the cherry trees.(Clik for enlarge)

I have already obtained a blief copy of book "National Arboretum Contribution No.4 U.S.Department of Agriculture, The Japanese Flowering Cherry Trees of Washington D.C.".

 However I could not find the name of our city, there is a phrase of the description which was written in simply only as "in February 1911 they were grafted to specially selected understock......".

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 In cosequently, I had a mail from NPS(National Park Service) for my requesting at the web page of "the history of Cherry trees in Washington D.C." that the understock of cherry trees were prepared at our city.

  On behalf of all people of Itami, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all persons who kindly added the phrase at the history page in website.
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REMARKS: Reply mail for my requesting.
I am the Natural Resource Manger for the National Park where the cherry trees are located in Washington, DC. I have been forwarded your email and will be passing the information along to the people who work on our web page to see about adding the information you have told us about. However, I would hold back on adding the Blossoms in our Future link to your web site. In the near future we will be significantly re-working the program and there will be several changes.
If you have any other questions, please contact me.
Gopaul Noojibail

Gopaul Noojibail

To:Robert DeFeo
Subject: May I ask a favor of you?
this is information that was passed to me regarding the web page. Let me know if you have questions.I thought you folks could make the decision and contact this person since you know more about the history.
thanks,   gopaul
----- Forwarded by Gopaul Noojibail/NACC/NPS on 02/21/2002 08:40 AM -
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Special thanks to Mr.Robert DeFeo and Mr.Gopaul Noojibail in NACC/NPS.
Itami city is introduced as a place of 
   produced understock of the cherry trees.

  I am very pleased to introduce you the article of offical website of National Park Service, U.S.Department of the Interior which is titlled "History of the Cherry Trees in Washington, D.C."(click to refer the website) , I quoted it as follows:

  January 28, consent from President Taft to burn trees. 
 This diplomatic setback resulted in letters from the Secretary of State and representations to the Japanese Ambassador expressing deep regret of all concerned. Dr. Takamine and the Mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki met the distressing news with determination and good will. Dr. Takamine again donated the costs for the trees, whose number had now increased to 3,020. The scions for these trees were taken in December 1910 from the famous collection on the bank of the Arakawa River in Adachi Ward, a suburb of Tokyo, and grafted on specially selected understock produced in Itami City, Hyogo Prefecture.

  On the occasion of 90th anniversary of the friendship gift of cherry trees in 1912, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all concerned persons of National Park Service, National Capital Region, for my requesting of adding the information at your website. 

And the inherited goodwill dogwood trees of the symbol of our relationship in Itami will beloved of all residents.

  We, all residents of Itami are proud of such a  significant achievements of our predecessors and 
should hand down the facts to next generation for the sake of promoting the mutual understanding and everlasting friendship between Japan and the U.S. 
(Consul General F. Maerkle at the dogwood tree planting ceremony.)

  Planting ceremony of home-coming cherry tree !!
  Planting ceremony was held at Zugaike park in Itami city.
 On April 4th 2003, the planting ceremony of seedling cherry tree which was presented from Japan Cherry Blossom Association.(JCBA-"Nippon Sakura-no-kai")
  It is our great pleasure that the secretariat of JCBA had found my web site and then JCBA informed the project of NCSS(National Conference of State Society) in Washington D.C. that NCSS are planning to send the descended from original cherry trees at seedling facility of NPS.
  In consequently, Itami city authority and Itami International Friendship Association had decided the acceptance of the proposal of goodwill presentation.
 I have learned that the year 2003 will mark the 55th Anniversary of the Cherry Blossom Queen and Princess Program, the 110th Anniversary of the Mikimoto Pearl Company (the company that supplies the Crown for the Cherry Blossom Queen each year) and the 150th Anniversary since the arrival of the black ships commanded by Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States to Uraga, Japan,

 Refer to NCSS(National Conference of State Society(Click)

Related article of News Papers.(left)
 ・April 4th Mainich daily news 
 ・April 5th Asahi,Sankei and Kobe News in Hanshin Local edition.
 ・April 6th Yomiuri News
(PDF format  Click for Adobe Acrobat Reader

 The descendant seedling of cherry tree had arrived on April 3rd and deliverd from the JCBA in Tokyo to Itami city office.
Planting ceremony was held in the afternoon at the Zugaike Park with attending the Mayor of Itami and the President of Itami International Friendship Association and other concerned persons.
 The Park is situated near the Higashino village where was the place of preparing the understock in 1910.

(Click for enlarging the picture)

Up::Greetins:Mayor of Itami
Right:Mayor and the President of I.I.F.A.

(Location - Click for bigsize)

*Location of planting

East Longitude 135.24'.13''
North Latitude 34 47' 25''

NPS ID No.8909763
 Full bloom of Home-coming cherry tree
 In the beautiful spring season of flowering cherry trees on April 2005, although we have rather belated full bloom period than ordinary year due to the unstable cold weather goes back from March in Japan.
 However we are happy to inform you that the home coming cherry tree where is planted in Zuga-ike(pond) park was bloomed since 2years ago.
  All of the cherry trees in the park reflected on the surface of water at Zuga-ike park.


 I am pleased to inform you that I have found the book, "The Cherry Blossom Festival-Sakura Celebration " (Author:Ms.Ann McClellan) at the website of National Cherry Blossom Festival 2005.

 As I promptly subscribed to this book by Internet order from Japan and I am exciting to find the article of another viewing locations of Japnaese Flowering Cherry trees in the US.
 For more details:refer to ""

elected Viewing Locations in the U.S.For Japanese Flowering Cherry Trees

Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Jamaica Plain,Massachusetts
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New York
Brookside Gardens, Silver Spring, Maryland
The Cornell Plantations, Ithaca, New York
Filoli Center, Woodside, California
The Holden Arboretum, Kirtland, Ohio
Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical
Gardens, San Marino, California
Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Missouri Botanical Garden, Saint Louis, Missouri
Morris Arboretum and Gardens of the University of
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois
The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York
The Botanic Garden of Smith College, Northampton,
San Francisco Botanical Gardens, San Francisco, California
Tyler Arboretum, Media, Pennsylvania
U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, D.C.
Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle, Washington

Selected Cherry Blossom Festivals Around the U.S.

Brooklyn, New York        Cupertino, California
Denver, Colorado         Honolulu, Hawaii
Macon, Georgia          Monterey Park, California
Pasadena, California       Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
San Francisco, California    Seattle, Washington
Other festivals celebrate fruit-bearing cherry trees, such as the National Cherry Festival, Traverse City, Michigan, held each July.

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 I am looking forward to your comments
e-mail:   aranishi(A)

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