Sakura 桜 Season Approaches!
For the first time, we are issuing our prediction for the peak cherry bloom dates in Philadelphia: April 18-23. Changing weather conditions and temperature affect the appearance of the trees, but we expect to see our specimen weeping cherry tree in its greatest majesty at that time, along with the the hundreds of cherry trees along the Schuylkill River, behind Memorial Hall, and in the Centennial Arboretum and Horticulture Center around Shofuso.
Seasons by Naoko Hara
Music : Almost Blue – Himuro Yoshiteru
Japan’s Friendship Through Cherry Trees
Philadelphia’s earliest significant contacts with the Japanese occurred in the second half of the 19th century: the Japanese Embassy to the United States in 1860; and the Iwakura mission in 1872. The greatest, long-lasting impact came in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition when Japan installed the first Japanese garden in North America, with a bazaar structure, at Shofuso’s current location. A Japanese temple gate, previously at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, 1904, stood in that area from 1905 until a fire in 1955.
By 1958, the Japanese Exhibition House, designed by architect Junzo Yoshimura and shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, had been given to Philadelphia and installed at the site, with a garden designed by landscape architect Tansai Sano. The house and garden remain today as Shofuso Japanese House and Garden.
The effects of early Japanese participation on Philadelphia landscaping can also be seen today in the flowering cherry trees in Fairmount Park. To commemorate the American Sesquicentennial in 1926, Japan gave 1,600 such trees. The first Japanese cherry trees planted in the United States came to Washington DC in 1912 – about 14 years prior to the planting in Philadelphia. In 1933, Japanese residents of the Philadelphia area gave 500 more for the John B. Kelly (formerly East River) Drive section of the park.
Continuing this good work, the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP) planted nearly a thousand cherry trees in the decade after 1998 near Shofuso and along the Schuylkill River.
As the number of cherry blossom trees grew and the tree planting project began to attract more attention, Subaru of America, Inc. sponsored the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia, a Japanese-style celebration of spring that features more than 45 events attended by over 20,000 people, supporting the ongoing tree planting project and honoring and celebrating the Japanese government’s 1926 gift of goodwill and springtime festivity. This year’s Cherry Blossom Festival will take place April 6-12, 2015.
Sakura Sunday, Philadelphia’s Sakura Matsuri 桜祭り, will take place on Sunday, April 12 around the grounds of Shofuso.