The first known sakura (cherry blossom) viewing party was given by Emperor Saga at the Imperial Palace in the year 812 in Kyoto, Japan's second capital city. The trees in bloom had been taken many years earlier from Mt. Yoshino in Nara Prefecture, Japan's original capital, the first place to become famous for the trees. In the Tokugawa era, authorities planted Yoshino trees in Edo, known today as Tokyo. From those same trees, the Japanese took cuttings and presented them to America just 90 years ago for planting in the nation's capital.
Washington's 65th cherry blossom festival is scheduled for March 25 through April 8. Estimated peak bloom dates are March 31 to April 5. For more information or to view the blossoms from first flowering to full bloom, visit the festival's website at www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.
The Macon, Ga., festival runs from March 16 to 25. For more information or to obtain tickets to any of its events, visit www.cherryblossom.com.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor