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Cherry Blossom Festival History Page 3

Cherry Blossoms 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. To protect American growers, the department concluded that the trees must be destroyed.

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 wild cherry root stock.

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:

Prunus x yedoensis "Yoshino" . . . . 1,800 
Prunus serrulata "Ariake". . . . . .   100 
"Fugenzo"  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   120
"Fukurokuju" . . . . . . . . . . . .    50
"Gyoiko" . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    20 
(These were all planted on the White House Grounds)
"Ichiyo" . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   160
"Jonoi"  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    80
"Kwanzan"  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   350
"Mikurumagaeshi" . . . . . . . . . .    20
"Shirayuki"  . . . . . . . . . . . .   130
"Surugadainioi"  . . . . . . . . . .    50
"Takinioi" . . . . . . . . . . . . .   140

Total  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,020
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. NEXT PAGE >>>
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