Cherry Blossom Tree Planted on Campus

Planting commemorates dual centennials: GW’s presence in Foggy Bottom and the year Tokyo gifted the capital the cherry blossom trees.

From left to right, sophomores Alicia Rose and Vanessa Tenazas, GW President Steven Knapp, National Cherry Blossom Festival President Diana Mayhew and junior Haruka Nakagawa.
September 07, 2012

In the latest celebration of its 100-year anniversary in Foggy Bottom, the George Washington University added a cherry blossom tree to the more than 3,700 that dot the nation’s capital.

The commemorative tree carries particular significance this year—it’s also the centennial of the year the city of Tokyo gave the city of Washington 3,000 cherry blossom trees.

A crowd of about 100 gathered Sept. 6 in the Great Hall in the Marvin Center for the celebration introducing the cherry blossom tree to its new home on campus. Glass tables were draped in tablecloths of the iconic light pink of the cherry blossoms, and tables with origami demonstrations, sushi and GW chopsticks framed the room.

“We’ve used this year, the whole year, to celebrate what it is to be in and of this great capital city of Washington, D.C.,” GW President Steven Knapp said. “We’ve been very much looking forward to this particular event in our centennial to make the connection between what it means to be part of this great city, and the great symbol of friendship that was the gift from the Japanese government to the American people.”

Vanessa Tenazas and Alicia Rose, sophomores in the Elliott School of International Affairs, opened the event as leaders of GW’s Japanese American Student Alliance.

“There is no better gift that the university can give its community than the shade and splash of color of the iconic cherry blossom tree to permanently commemorate its 100-year location in a neighborhood adjacent to the National Mall and monuments,” Ms. Tenazas said.

Diana Mayhew, president of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, also offered remarks, saying one of the festival’s main goals is to engage the community.

“GW is the epitome of that,” Ms. Mayhew said. “Reaching out to the community, being involved, extending the cherry blossom festival here to campus—it’s just wonderful.”

To close the event, Haruka Nakagawa, a Tokyo native and junior in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, sang “Sakura Sakura,” which she said translates to “Cherry blossoms, oh cherry blossoms” and is about admiration of the beauty and fragrance of the tree.

The tree has put its roots in the Mid-Campus Quad behind Lisner Auditorium. Soon, a plaque will be placed nearby, inscribed with the following haiku:

calling to mind
all manner of things
cherry blossoms

See upcoming events for GW’s celebration of its 100-year anniversary in Foggy Bottom:

Student Life

Commemorating Dual Centennials