Every year Washington DC has its annual Cherry Blossom Festival. And during the weeks leading up to this event, swarms of people descend on our fair city just to get a look at the guest of honor, the Cherry Blossom.
Now I’m not going to lie to you. I like flowers and trees just as much as the next person. But when I hear that close to a million people will be in one place at one time (with nary a bathroom in site) I tend to stay far, far away.
So I’m not sure what possessed us this weekend, but the CPA and I decided that we just had to go see the what all the fuss was about. I mean when you live this close, it’s really a shame to miss it, right? So we went to bed early Friday night and woke in time to get downtown before sunrise. Apparently, however, we weren’t the only ones who had this stroke of genius, and we soon found ourselves surrounded by hundreds of photo enthusiasts, dog walkers, and early-morning runners. But you know what? Even though it was freezing and we weren’t dressed appropriately for the cold weather, I am so glad we went.
And I’m glad we went early too. Even at the early hour of 6:30 am, the CPA had to park almost a mile away just to find a spot. But, we got to see the sun come up and let me tell you that there was no prettier place than the one where we were standing. The dark of the sky slowly changed to pink,
and then to gold.
As it became lighter, the color of the trees began to change too.
While it was dark, it was hard to see the vibrant pinks of the petals.
But once the sun was in the sky, the flowers were bright and beautiful.
As the sun continued its ascent, we decided to head to the other side of the basin. The Tidal Basin (you may remember pictures of it from my previous post on the Jefferson Memorial) is in a round shape and hundreds of these Japanese cherry trees line its edge.
The trees were planted in 1912 as a gift of friendship from Japan. Every spring since, they have blossomed for an average of two weeks, giving visitors plenty of time to enjoy their beauty.
There are many different kinds of blossoms too.
There are the Yoshinos, (which is the dominant variety found here at the Tidal Basin), the Akebono (these are pale pink at first, then they turn white and go back to pink as they wilt),
the Kwanzan (this flower grows in clusters with about 30 petals in each), the Usuzumi (which is a national treasure in Japan and can grow up to 40 feet high), and the Sargent (this cherry is light pink and is the most resistant to the cold weather).
And a visit to see the trees isn’t complete without stopping by the ceremonial Japanese Lantern. This stone lantern was originally part of a pair that once stood near a temple in Tokyo and it is over 350 years old. Now it is used during the opening ceremonies of the Cherry Blossom Festival when women related to Japanese diplomats light it. This has been the practice since it first came to DC in 1954.
Who knew there was such history behind something as simple as a Cherry Blossom tree?
I’m glad we were able to be a part of the celebration this year. It is truly amazing to see such natural beauty growing so unexpectedly in the middle of a large city. It quite literally takes your breath away.
I’m already planning to return next year.
Have you ever seen the Cherry Blossoms? If so, what did you think, was it worth the visit?