Winter wanes, and slowly, the fresh green of spring buds and new grass enlivens the parks and city streets of the District of Columbia. Washington awakens to a landscape transformed, as if overnight. The bare branches and stark tree forms are now heavily laden with fluffy, full, burgeoning blooms. This gorgeous annual spectacle is a gracious symbol of the friendship forged between the citizens of Tokyo, Japan, and those of Washington. The beautiful tradition harks back to 1912, when First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, the wife of the Japanese ambassador, together planted two of the 3,000 cherry trees that Tokyo’s mayor gifted the city. The trees flourished throughout the years, and the ritual of giving continued. Lady Bird Johnson accepted a gift of an additional 3,800 trees in 1965. Today, Washington’s national parks are home to more than 3,750 thriving cherry trees of sixteen varieties.