Sopia Kakueva, 9, explains the her artwork, which was part of a display Sunday at the Huntington Library of pieces by children depicting cherry blossoms. The library purchased 1,000 cherry trees as part of the nationwide celebration of the 100th anniversary of Tokyo’s gift of cherry trees to Washington, D.C. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

A gathering Sunday at the Huntington Museum and Gardens was held as a kick-off to celebrations nationwide that will observe the 100th anniversary of Tokyo’s gift of over 3,000 cherry trees to Washington, D.C.

Jim Folsom, the director of the Huntington’s botanical gardens, announced that the museum has acquired some 1,000 cherry trees, some of which will be planted at the sprawling San Marino estate, while others will be made available to cities and groups for planting throughout Southern California.

“It is an opportunity to celebrate a really wonderful event and reinitiate the goodwill here,” Folsom said.

It was also announced that the National Arbor Day Foundation will be distributing an additional 2,000 trees to more than 30 cities in the United States. Among the municipal agencies looking into obtaining trees are Civic Park in Downtown Los Angeles and the Port of San Diego.

Attendees included Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles Jun Niimi, who touched upon why the annual blooming is such a special event in the hearts of the Japanese people.

“When the trees bloom, it changes the landscape dramatically, marking the beginning of our spring,” Niimi explained. “But a light gust of wind can cause the petals to fall. In the sakura, we Japanese see the impermanence of life, so we want to fully appreciate them during the short time they are here.”

Folsom added that the Huntington’s Japanese Garden, by far its most popular attraction, will reopen April 11 with the addition of an authentic Japanese tea house, donated by the Pasadena Buddhist Church.

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