Both the United States and Japan are fortunate to have maintained such a strong relationship and have the Cherry Blossom trees in Washington, D.C. and American dogwood trees in Japan to symbolize this enduring friendship. As many know, the Cherry Blossom trees were first donated by Mayor Ozaki on March 27, 1912, when a ceremony was held on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in D.C. in which two Cherry Blossom trees were planted by First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador. Since then, we have commemorated this occasion every year by holding the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.
To show their appreciation for Japan’s thoughtful donation, The U.S. Department of State selected U.S. – Japan Bridging Foundation for this public-private partnership. Together they commemorated the centennial anniversary of Japan’s gift in 1912 of 3,000 cherry trees by offering 3,000 American dogwood trees to the people of Japan. The Friendship Blossoms—Dogwood Tree Initiative was announced on April 30, 2012 by Secretary Hillary Clinton at a dinner in honor of Japanese Prime Minister Noda. During this event, Clinton presented the Prime Minister with a Friendship Blossom Plaque, designed by the U.S.–Japan Bridging Foundation and produced by Summit Group. The plaque was designed exclusively for this initiative and includes a signature logo, poetry and date. Executive Director of the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation, Paige Cottingham-Streater, commented that the plaques, which are made of bronze, are “a very durable and strong material which signifies the Friendship Blossoms – a tangible embodiment of the strength and longevity of the U.S.-Japan relationship.”
Nearly four years after this first presentation of the Friendship Blossoms Plaque, Ambassador Caroline Kennedy presented another plaque on January 26th, 2016 to Mr. Toshihiro Hagiwara, of the Hagiwara Tree Laboratory, at a reception to celebrate the Bridging Scholars and Friendship Blossoms Initiative. Mr. Hagiwara is a 14th generation tree doctor who took great care of all 3,000 dogwood trees at his nursery in Saitama, Japan. After the presentation, a Friendship Blossoms plaque is installed at each of the 84 locations throughout Japan where the Friendship Blossom dogwood trees are planted, including Yoyogi Park in Tokyo and the Hiroshima Peace Park in Hiroshima. You can find a list of the planting sites on the Bridging Foundation’s digital map by clicking here.
Much like our friendship with Japan, we at Summit Group consider ourselves incredibly blessed to be working with and to have maintained a strong relationship with such a magnificent organization as the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation. We look forward to many more opportunities to create works of art that symbolize the growing friendship between our two great nations.
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