Do you know how the Cherry Blossom Festival in
Washington, DC began?

ON FEBRUARY 14, 1912, MAYOR YUKIO OZAKI OF TOKYO, DONATED 3000 CHERRY TREES TO THE CITY OF WASHINGTON, D.C. THE TREES WERE SHIPPED FROM YOKOHAMA, JAPAN ON BOARD THE S.S. AWA MARU, BOUND FOR SEATTLE. FROM SEATTLE, THEY WERE TRANSFERRED ONTO INSULATED FREIGHT CARS FOR SHIPMENT TO WASHINGTON, D.C. THIS HISTORIC EVENT WAS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH THE EFFORTS OF WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT AND ELIZA SKIDMORE. ON MARCH 27, MRS. TAFT AND THE VISCOUNTESS CHINDA, WIFE OF THE JAPANESE AMBASSADOR, PICKED TWO YOSHINO CHERRY TREES FROM THE ORIGINAL 3000 TREES AND PLANTED THEM ON THE NORTHERN BANK OF THE TIDAL BASIN NEAR WHAT IS NOW INDEPENDENCE AVENUE. WASHINGTON FAMOUS NATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL GREW FROM THIS SIMPLE CEREMONY. A LARGE BRONZE PLAQUE ON THE ORIGINAL TWO TREES MARKS THE OCCASION. HELEN AND PRESIDENT WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT WERE FROM OHIO.

1912-2012: ONE HUNDRED YEARS LATER: AS COLUMBUS, OHIO WAS CELEBRATING ITS BICENTENNIAL YEAR IN 2012, TWO EVENTS HAPPENED TO SHOWCASE COLUMBUS AS A COSMOPOLITAN CITY.

On April 27, 2012, the city of Columbus celebrated the 1912 centennial of the donation of the original cherry trees in Washington, D.C. by planting 20 cherry trees (part of the 100 cherry trees centennial gift from Japan) in Franklin Park. Former governor of Ohio Robert A. Taft, II, a grandson of President and Mrs. William H. Taft, the Consul General of Japan, Kuninori Matsuda, Mayor Michael Coleman and various city dignitaries, the OSU Japan Institute, and representatives of the Japan American Society of Central Ohio (JASCO) participated in the celebrations. The city of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department (CRPD), Franklin Park Conservatory (FPC) and the International Voluntary Organizations (IVO) joined efforts to obtain and plant 40 additional cherry trees in the park. These additional trees were dedicated during the 26th Family Day at the Peace Garden on September 22, 2018. More cherry trees will be planted in 2020 and dedicated on October 3, 2020. The movers and doers behind the project hope that the trees will be ready for a full-blown Columbus Cherry Blossom Festival in 2022 like Washington D.C.

On May 12, 2012: the city of Columbus in partnership with the International Voluntary Organizations (IVO) expanded the International Peace Garden to include the Colors of Columbus, a collection of dwarf flowering trees, each tree representing the ethnicity or ancestry of the Greater Columbus residents showcasing Columbus, Ohio as a diverse cosmopolitan city.

For more information please email: Peace@IVOcolumbus.com or marlindarsi@yahoo.com.