Did you know that there are 3,000 Japanese さくら (Sakura (Cherry Blossom)) trees in Washington DC, America?
Japanese Sakura in Washington, DC (photo from Yahoo! News)
Did you know that those trees were a gift of friendship to America from Japan? And that the first two trees were planted near the White House by the then American “First Lady” and wife of the Japanese Ambassador to America?
I knew all of that already and I also knew that there are Japanese-style 花見 (“Cherry Blossom Viewing” parties) in Washington DC every spring when the flowers are in bloom.
But I didn’t know that Japan gave the trees to America in March 1912. One hundred years ago this month.
And I also didn’t know that the first two trees (the ones planted by the wives of the then U.S. President and Japanese Ambassador) are still standing in the same spot the were planted in Washington DC in 1912.
So, this year’s 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing) in Washington DC is special because it’s the one-hundredth anniversary of the gift of the trees from Japan.
The さくら (Cherry Blossoms) are already in bloom in Washington DC because of unusually warm weather in America now.
Another event to help mark the occasion took place in New York City earlier this month.
2012 March 1-6 was called “Japan Week” in NYC.
I don’t know much about this event but from looking at their website, it appears that visitors could experience a lot of Japanese culture that week in New York.
A woman playing the "Koto" (Japanese harp-like instrument) at "Japan Week" in NYC.
It was reported on the news yesterday that the self-credited mastermind of the 2001 September 11 terrorism attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in America, Osama Bin Laden, was killed by the American military.
Without a doubt, anyone responsible for crimes against humanity such as Bin Laden was should be brought to justice.
But I’m not sure I agree that the celebrations and cheering across America that was shown on the TV news yesterday is appropriate.
A crowd in Washington DC cheered the news that Osama Bin Laden was killed in a firefight with the U.S. military.
The Americans crowds that were shown on TV were chanting “USA! USA! USA!” and singing pro-America songs such as the American National Anthem.
It reminded me of the images of the reaction in some Middle Eastern countries about ten years ago after the WTC attacks on America.
There were some anti-American crowds in some countries who were cheering America’s loss.
It was quite offensive to see!
I certainly wouldn’t compare a villain such as Bin Laden to the innocent lives lost on 2001 September 11th…but seeing Americans cheering may fuel “anti-American” feelings in some countries.
It seems that there are a number of Japanese festivals in America at various times of the year and in various cities around America.
I’d like to attend a Japanese festival in America and see how similar or different it is from a real Japanese festival!
Have you ever been to a Japanese festival in America (or another country)? How was it?
I found information online about a few Japanese festivals in different U.S. cities:
- Japan Fest, Atlanta (Georgia, USA)
２００９年９月１９日(土曜日)から９月２０日(日曜日)まで。 (Saturday, 19 September 2009 – Sunday. 20 September).
All of the Japanese festivals in America that I found online have already finished this year…except this one.
If you’re in Atlanta, Georgia USA this September 19 -20, you should consider checking out this festival.
They have scheduled martial arts shows, 盆栽 (bonsai), 生花 (ikebana), アニメ (anime), Japanese food, etc.
- The Japan-America Society Of Houston (Texas, USA)
This festival was held in Texas, USA on ２００９年４月２５日から４月２６日まで。 (2009 April 25-26).
Do you go to it?
- National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington D.C. (USA)
This year’s festival in Washington D.C. was held on ２００９年３月２８日から４月１２日まで。 (2009 March 28 – April 12).
Next year’s will be ２０１０年３月２７日から４月１１日まで。 (2010 March 27 – April 11).
Did you go to this festival? Are you planning to go next year?
I heard about this festival on the TV news here in Japan because Jero performed at it this year (I wrote a post about it last March. Click here to read it).
- Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia (USA)
This year’s festival was on ２００９年４月５日。 (2009 April 5).
There are many international festivals in Tokyo…
But I never knew there were so many Japanese festivals in America before. When I lived in America, I never heard about any Japan festivals. Are they a fairly recent* occurence? (* by recent, I mean since 1990.)
Is it because there’s currently a “Japan boom” in America?
Have you been to a Japan festival?
A number of years ago, Japan gave America 桜の木 (Cherry blossom trees) as a symbol of friendship.
They’re planted in Washington DC.
桜 (Cherry blossoms) are very popular in Japan. They are a symbol of Spring in Japan.
Japanese love them not only for their beauty…but also their fragility. They only stay in bloom for a week or so…and then gently fall to the ground like a beautiful pink snowfall. They’re like a symbol of the beauty and shortness of life.
Every Spring, Japanese people sit under the 桜の木 (Cherry blossom trees) to have a picnic together and enjoy the view.
It’s called 「花見」 (Hanami)…or “Cherry Blossom Viewing”.
I was surprised that America has Japanese-style 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing) festivals every Spring in Washington DC under the 桜の木 (Cherry blossom trees) from Japan.
Are these festivals popular in America like they are in Japan? Have you ever been?
At this year’s 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing) festival in Washington DC on March 28, Jero will be performing.
Jero is a 27-year old Enka singer.
Enka is a traditional Japanese blues type music that is popular mostly with older Japanese people.
So, it’s surprising that Jero is a young Enka singer. But more surprising is that he’s a black American. And he sings Enka while dressed in hip-hop fashion (Enka singers usually wear 着物 (kimono).
I wrote a post about Jero before. Click here to read it.
It’s early in the morning on Wednesday, January 21, 2009 in Japan right now…but in Washington DC, it’s about noon on Tuesday, January 20.
And the United States’ 44th president just took office.
44th President of USA, Barack Obama
He took office today at the age of 47…making him the fifth youngest person to become President of the United States (Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest at 42).
My youngest sister went to Barack Obama’s inauguration in Washington D.C.. If she’s able to take some nice photos and send them to me, I’ll add them to this post.
Today is September 11.
For the past seven years all one needs to say is that date and everyone knows what is being referred to.
September 11, 2001. In the United States, it’s usually just called “9/11“.
I don’t need to say that I’m talking about today being the seventh anniversary of the four hijacked airplanes that were used by terrorists to bring down both World Trade Center buildings in New York City, crash into “ The Pentagon” government building in Washington DC, and a fourth failed attacked that potentially saved numerous lives due to the sacrifice of the heroes that crashed that plane into an empty field in Pennsylvania.
Where were you when the 9/11 Attacks occurred?
In Japan, it was already late in the evening of September 11, 2001.
I was in the shower. My wife saw the “breaking news” on TV and she came to the bathroom to tell me that an airplane crashed into the World Trade Center in NYC.
I assumed it was just a small Cesna plane. Who would’ve guessed that hijackers could take over the cockpit of a passenger 747 and fly it into a skyscraper in a major metropolis?
And who would’ve guessed that they could fly a second 747 into the neighboring skyscraper?
And two more planes? One into the American military’s biggest building?
It was quite obvious that America was under attack.
Then the two towers came crashing down!
It was quite a sad, shocking event, wasn’t it!?
My wife and I stayed up for hours watching the TV news. It was impossible to sleep!
Condolences to the families of the victims.