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SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Postal Service celebrates the friendship between America and Japan with its newest commemorative stamp release of the Cherry Blossom Centennial issuance.
That friendship found lasting expression a hundred years ago when the city of Tokyo gave 3,020 cherry trees to the city of Washington, D.C.
The stamp with be unveiled during the opening ceremonies of the 45th Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, Saturday, April 14, from 12:30 to 3 p.m. in San Francisco’s Japantown. The dedication is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. on the Japantown Peace Plaza, Post and Buchanan streets.
Weather and logistics may change the schedule without advance notice. Check the festival’s website (http://nccbf.org/) for updates. The festival will be held on two consecutive weekends, April 14-15 and 21-22.
Following the dedication, attendees and philatelists (stamp collectors) will be able to purchase new and cancelled stamps with the festival’s 45th anniversary logo imprint. The stamps will be available for purchase during this unveiling for a limited time. Afterwards, the stamps will be available for purchase at your local post office in the following days.
In this unusual design, two stamps form the left and right halves of a single, panoramic view of cherry trees blooming around the Tidal Basin in the nation’s capital. In the stamp on the left, blossoming trees arch over two girls dressed in bright kimono and a family on a stroll. The Washington Monument rises in the background. In the stamp on the right, the Jefferson Memorial is the backdrop for other tourists taking in the sights under canopies of pink blooms.
On March 27, 1912, in a modest ceremony at the Tidal Basin, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Iwa Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees, delighting a city for decades to come. Since that spring day, Washington’s cherry blossoms have remained an ever-renewing source of pleasure and pride. In 1927, local citizens held the first celebration of these stunning trees, and today the National Cherry Blossom Festival typically draws more than a million visitors.
Each spring, the festival that honors the blossoming of the cherry trees includes a parade and a host of concerts, exhibitions, and events that echo the spirit of Japan’s gift of friendship. Because these spectacular trees flower so briefly, the Japanese often see them as poignant symbols of transience — making every blossom an invitation to celebrate being alive.
Designed by art director Phil Jordan, the stamps feature a colorful illustration by Paul Rogers. The Cherry Blossom Centennial stamps are being issued as Forever stamps in self-adhesive sheets of 20. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current first-class mail one-ounce rate. At the time of issuance, the Cherry Blossom Centennial stamps are being sold for 45 cents each, or $9 per sheet.
Hotel Kabuki is the sponsor for this event.