Published on Aug 29, 2020

Blossom Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC

Spotting these pretty pink flowers signals the start of spring, but have you ever wondered about their history? Cherry blossoms, which aren’t native to the U.S., have quite the surprising backstory.

Cherry blossom season is a major tourist draw for any city that’s lucky enough to grow these ornamental cherry trees. More than 1.5 million people are expected to visit Washington, D.C. this year for its National Cherry Blossom Festival (which kicks off on March 20, 2019) and Japan saw an influx of 2.6 million overseas tourists when its pretty pink flowers started to bloom in March of last year. In celebration of the arrival of spring.

Known as “sakura” in Japanese, these pale blooms are a symbol of more than just spring β€” they stand for renewal and hope.


The century-old custom is known as “hanami,” which means flower viewing. Early scripture hints that the tradition began with emperors and members of the Imperial Palace.

For these late-night picnics, known as “yozakura,” the Japanese hang paper lanterns in cherry blossom trees to illuminate them.

According to the National Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C., the flower is a symbol for the friendship between Japan and the U.S.

Japan sent the trees to the U.S. to represent goodwill. In 1915, we reciprocated by sending flowering dogwood trees to Japan.

In 1910, U.S. inspectors from the Department of Agriculture recommended burning this gift from the Japanese after finding insects and diseases in the trees. According to Washingtonian, this nearly caused a diplomatic crisis.

Defined as the day when 70% of Toshino cherry trees are open, peak bloom varies each year (with the mean date of April 4 in Washington, D.C.). The blooming period can last up to 14 days. In 2016, peak bloom happened on March 26 in D.C.

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