Do You Know the
Story Behind the
A Gift of Friendship from Japan
The National Cherry Blossom Festival annually
commemorates the 1912 gift to the city of Washington of
3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to
enhance the growing friendship between the United
States and Japan and celebrate the continued close
relationship between our two peoples.
In a simple ceremony on March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen
Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese
ambassador, planted the first two of these trees on the
north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park.
A Gift Given in Return
By 1915 the United States government had responded
with a gift of flowering dogwood trees to the people of
Japan. In 1927, a group of American school children
reenacted the initial planting; the first festival was held in
1935, sponsored by civic groups in the nation's capital.
The Friendship Betrayed
Then one fateful day, this friendship went sour, with the
attack on Pearl Harbor. Conflicts arising before WWII
escalated to the point that Japan launched the first attack
on our native soil since the war of 1812. After being
ushered into the war, and after much bloodshed and valor,
in the end, the USA and her allies prevailed and the
international conflict was won.
The Japanese then welcomed their victor onto their soil.
Much of modern Japan's current economic success is due
to their desire to be like the one who was successful in the
war: America and her allies.
An Act of Renewed Friendship and Reconciliation
Three thousand, eight hundred more trees were accepted
in 1965 by First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson. In 1981 the cycle
of giving came full circle when Japanese horticulturalists
came to take cuttings from our trees to replace Yoshino
cherry trees in Japan which had been destroyed in a flood.
With this return gift, the trees again fulfilled their roles as
a symbol and agent of friendship. The most recent event in
this cycle occurred in the fall of 1999. It involved the
formal planting in the Tidal Basin of a new generation of
cuttings from a famous Japanese cherry tree in Gifu
province reputed to be over 1500 years old.
In 1994 the Festival was expanded to two weeks to
accommodate the many activities that happen during the
trees blooming. Today the National Cherry Blossom
Festival is coordinated by the National Cherry Blossom
Festival, Inc., an umbrella organization consisting of
representatives of business, civic and governmental
organizations. Over a million people visit Washington each
year to admire the blossoming cherry trees and
participate in the Festival that heralds the beginning of
spring in the nation's capital.
Life and Reconciliation
Cherry blossoms are an annual and elegant reminder of
the beauty and brevity of life. 1 The Washington, D.C.
cherry blossoms are also a wonderful reminder of the
friendship and reconciliation between America and Japan.
Do You Long For A Hurtful, Damaged
Relationship To Be Reconciled?
Friendship and Reconciliation
There is probably not a person alive today who has not
experienced hurt and betrayal from a friend at some point
in their life. It probably takes you only a moment to bring
one to mind.But there is an even more powerful story of
friendship, conflict and death, followed by reconciliation.
It is not a story from the last hundred years of world
history. It a story that spans thousands of years. It is the
story of love and sacrifice greater than any ever seen. It is
the story of Jesus Christ.
Friendship and Reconciliation with God
Would you have a few minutes for me to share some of
the details about that story of reconciliation?
This story of reconciliation also begins with the giving of a
gift, the gift of life. “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” 2
It is followed by a rebellion, a rebellion against the giver of
the gift. This rebellion resulted in the loss of the friendship
and the relationship with the giver of life. “For all have
sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 3 “As it is written,‘There is none righteous, not even one.’” 4
But the Giver of life loved His creation so much that before
the beginning of time, He planned a redemption.
That redemption involved the ultimate sacrifice: the
sacrifice of His very own life (or should I say the life of His
very own Son). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died
for us.” 5
That sacrifice provided a way to restore the original
relationship with the Creator and Redeemer of life. “For as
in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” 6
God made you, and then paid for you. “For You formed my
inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb.” 7 “For
you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God
in your body.” 8
If so great an offer of love and reconciliation was offered
to you, would you take it? “How shall we escape if we
neglect so great a salvation?” 9
If you want to receive this sacrificial gift, you need to
recognize the Creator, recognize your sin and separation
from Him, seek forgiveness, and then receive the covering
or payment for you sin in the person of Jesus Christ. For“whoever believes Him shall not perish, but have eternal
When I received Christ, I prayed a prayer to God
something like this:
“Dear Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying to pay the
price for my sins. Though I am undeserving of Eternal Life,
Your love for me has made a way for me to live forever in
heaven with You by carrying the weight of all my sin on
Your body as You died on the cross, and shed Your blood for
me. Forgive me of my many sins before You that have
caused me to fall short of the glory of God, and could
cause me to be eternally separated from You. I ask You to
come into my life, and I receive You now as my Savior and
Lord. I give You control of my life. I ask the Holy Spirit to
indwell me and strengthen me in my new spiritual birth to
live in victory over sin. I ask You to help me walk in the
power of the Holy Spirit, and not in my fleshly sinful habits.
Make me the kind of person You want me to be. In Jesus
If you pray this prayer for yourself, we would love to know.
If you have questions, we would love to know also!
We are working on a web site that may answer some
Please feel free to visit it and drop us an email! Blossoms@GetEternalAnswers.org
God's great blessings to you,
In Christ, Your friends at GetEternalAnswers.com
- Isaiah 40:6-8
- Genesis 2:7
- Romans 3:23
- Romans 3:10
- Romans 5:8
- I Cor. 15:22
- Psalm 139:13
- I Cor. 6:20
- Hebrews 2:3a