The flowering cherry trees that surround the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., have become a perennial source of pleasure and pride, drawing millions of tourists and locals every year. The original trees—a gift from the city of Tokyo in 1912—honored the friendship between the United States and Japan.
Because these spectacular trees flower so briefly, the Japanese often see them as poignant symbols of life’s transience—making every blossom an invitation to celebrate being alive. Today The Washington Post reports that the canopy of pink and white blossoms will “hit peak bloom between March 26 and March 30 this year.”
Last year, the U.S. Postal Service commemorated the centennial of Japan’s gift to the United States, and celebrated the continued close relationship between the two nations, with the issuance of the Cherry Blossom Centennial stamps.
Created by artist Paul Rogers and art director Phil Jordan, the two stamps, which are near mirror images, form the left and right halves of a panoramic view of blooming cherry trees surrounding the Tidal Basin. The stamp on the left depicts blossoming trees arching over two girls dressed in bright kimonos and a family on a stroll with the Washington Monument in the background. On the second stamp, the Jefferson Memorial forms the backdrop for tourists taking in the sights under a canopy of pink blooms.
The Cherry Blossom Centennial Forever® stamps (and many related philatelic products) are still available from The Postal Store. (Forever® stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce rate.)
The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., runs from March 20 to April 14, 2013. Will you be there?