The Localist

Cherry blossom season


It’s March and Seattle is starting to wake up again. Months of rain and gray and storms and the occasional snow fall have taken their toll on our Vitamin D deficient population – but the trees are shaking out their branches, temperatures are slowly making their way up, and little buds everywhere feel like they are yawning awake or bursting open (some of them are morning people).

Plum trees are the first to bloom, a herald of spring if there ever was one. The cherry trees will be next, and the city’s avenues and parks will be brimming with clouds of white and pink, petals will do their spring dance in the breeze, and general good vibes will perforate the masses.

Historically, the blooms signify more than spring in our lovely city. They are a testament to a long standing relationship between the U.S and Japan. The first cherry trees, also known as sakura, were gifted to the U.S. from Tokyo in the summer of 1909. The 2000 saplings arrived in the Port of Seattle towards the end of the year and were transported to Washington D.C. by early January in 1910. The unfortunate discovery was made that these trees were infested with bugs and disease and the whole lot went on a burn pile. Two years later, more than 3000 gifted trees were ferried across the ocean, to try again. This time, the trees were planted along the edge of the tidal basin and on the grounds of the White House.  And so began a tradition of gifting cherry trees as a symbol of peace and goodwill between the nations.

Seattle has a special connection with Japan. Kobe is Japan’s 7th largest city and Seattle’s oldest and longest standing sister city. Kobe’s gifts to Seattle bloom in Kobe Terrace Park in the International District every year. FormerJapanese Prime Minister Miki Takeo, who went to school at the University of Washington here in Seattle in the 1930s, presented a multitude of blossoming trees to Seward Park in 1976 as a reminder of historic ties. Perhaps the most spectacular flower show however, happens on the campus of the University of Washington (pictured). Thousands of blooms line pathways and frame the gothic building that makes this campus so stunning. The University of Washington will receive hundreds of visitors in the three weeks that span late March to early April – a trip that is well worth the battle for parking or a bus ride with the Metro.

Once the short, sweet cherry blossom season is done and the flurries of petals float to the ground, it feels like a bridge has been crossed. It is well and truly springtime!





Image. Photo by Wedgwood Community Council.



2 Responses to Cherry blossom season

  1. julian draxler says:

    i always seem to miss the exact dates.. so ephemeral!


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