"How much less fun, how much less festive, the spring would be without the presence of the princesses here in Washington," said Deputy Chief of Mission Atsuyuki Oike at one of the Cherry Blossom Princess events held during the final week of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Since 1948, the National Conference of State Societies has sent young women representing states, territories and countries to Washington DC for a week of events culminating in the crowning of a new Cherry Blossom Queen!
This year's busy schedule included an appearance at the Ambassador's Residence for a reception honoring the 104th anniversary of the gift of cherry trees to the United States. The event included remarks by Deputy National Security Advisor Avril Haines and Ms. Gay Vietzke, Superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks at the National Park Service, which is celebrating its own 100th anniversary.
The Cherry Blossom Princess Congressional Reception was held at the U.S. Botanic Garden, which gave an opportunity to celebrate the Princesses' ties to each state. The reception included remarks from Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a former Cherry Blossom Princesses herself!
The Japan Information and Culture Center received their own visit with the Cherry Blossom Princesses, as they toured the Kogei artisan crafts exhibition, which displays 30 works encompassing ceramics, metalwork, glass and lacquerware in partnership with the Onishi Gallery.
As part of his visit to Washington DC to celebrate the gift of cherry trees by the Mayor of Tokyo in 1912, the Governor of Tokyo(Tokyo Gov) Yoichi Masuzoe joined the Official Cherry Blossom Grand Ball, and spun the wheel to choose the 2016 Cherry Blossom Queen. This year that title, and the accompanying prize of a round trip ticket to Japan, went to Rachel Bohn from Wisconsin. The Princesses, led by the new Cherry Blossom Queen, also joined in the Cherry Blossom Parade and Sakura Matsuri - Washington, DC street festival to cap off their visit, and the Festival itself!