Here in DC, we’re terrible re-gifters. Here we are, claiming the cherry blossom trees along the tidal basin as our gift to the world, when the first 3000 trees were in fact a gift to the city from the mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki in 1912 as a way to build friendship between Japan and the United States. Ozaki was a liberal who opposed the rising tide of Japanese militarism, and would be imprisoned during both world wars for his anti-war activities.
In 1965, twenty years after the end of WWII, Japan gave another 3800 trees to the US. In 1981, we gave cuttings back to Japan to replace trees which had been destroyed in a flood.
While the grove along the Tidal Basin is certainly the most famous, and the water and the monuments certainly add to the overall effect of viewing the blossoms, you have plenty of other options if crowds aren’t your thing. Yoshino cherry trees have been planted in smaller groves all over the area- they’re easy to spot because they bloom before almost anything else does. My personal favorite spot for hanami, or blossom viewing, is actually under the tree on the hillside across the street from our house. A blanket, a bottle of wine, and a picnic lunch make sakura season complete.
So, maybe this re-gifting thing isn’t so bad?
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs