Kuiper looks up at the camera. He has a cherry blossom on his nose.

How Cherry Blossoms came to the United States

“Except [Mt. Fuji] and the moon ?, no other object has been theme and inspiration of so many millions of Japanese poems as the cherry-blossom, and progress and modernity have not lessened its hold on the hearts of the whole people…” Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore, Century Magazine, 1910

We took Kuiper downtown to take portraits with the blooming cherry blossom trees, but neither of us were sure what to do when one landed on his nose. ? The trees in downtown Portland were planted to honor the Japanese-Americans who were forced out of their homes and held captive during World War II. More on that in a future post.

Have you ever heard of Eliza Scidmore? She was responsible for bringing cherry blossom trees to the US. Born in Iowa and raised in Wisconsin and then DC, Eliza was one of the first female travel photographers and journalists. ?? She was the first woman to join National Geographic ? and the first to serve on their board. The first known use of the word “tsunami” in the English language comes from a National Geographic article she wrote in 1896. ?

Eliza kicked off her career at 19 by covering the 1876 Philadelphia World’s Fair (at which the telephone, typewriter, Heinz ketchup, and bananas ? were introduced to the public.) A few years later, Eliza independently booked passage on a mail-delivery steamer ship to Alaska. ?? This made her one of the first tourists to visit, and in 1885 she published the first Alaska travel guide.

That same year, Eliza visited Japan for the first of what would become many trips. She fell in love with cherry blossom trees and spent the next 25 years trying to convince officials in D.C. that we really ought to plant some in our nation’s capital. In 1909, she succeeded in persuading First Lady Helen Taft. The initial donation of 2000 trees from Tokyo had to be destroyed due to pest infestation, but Japan graciously sent the United States a gift of 3020 more. On March 27th, 1912, the first two trees were planted along the Potomac in a dedication ceremony.

After World War II, descendants from the trees in DC were sent back to Japan to help restore the original trees, which had been damaged during the war.

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BheQ__EgDHP/

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