Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival
About the Cherry Trees

2024 Peak Bloom Prediction

The hundreds of Yoshino Cherry trees planted in West Fairmount Park and along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia are expected to reach peak bloom around the first week of April this year.

Tree Planting Initiatives

In 1926, the Government of Japan gifted 1,600 flowering trees, including cherry trees, to the City of Philadelphia in honor of the sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary of American independence. In 1998, Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia continued this legacy and began a ten-year, 1,000-tree planting campaign completed in 2007.

Beginning in 2023, and with the special sponsorship of Philadelphia Insurance Companies, Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia will plant an additional 250 trees over three years to commemorate America’s semiquincentennial (250th) anniversary.

Fairmount Park Cherry Tree Locations

Horticultural Center
trees from JASGP plantings and the original 1926 plantings

Memorial Hall
on Lansdowne Drive, behind Memorial Hall

Belmont Plateau
along Belmont Mansion Drive overlooking the city

West River/Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
from south of Montgomery Drive north to Falls Bridge

Kelly Drive
north of Boathouse Row along the river

Art Museum/Waterworks
between the museum and the waterworks

Cherry Blossom Viewing Map

In 2021, Japanese artist Hiro Sakaguchi was commissioned by Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia to create a hand-painted map of Philadelphia Cherry Blossoms – helping visitors find blossoming cherry trees throughout Fairmount Park and other spots around the City of Philadelphia.

Download the Cherry Blossom Viewing Map (PDF)

About the Artist

Hiro Sakaguchi was born in Nagano, Japan and moved to the United States in the 1990s to study art at the University of the Arts (BFA) and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (MFA). Sakaguchi has had over 35 solo and group exhibitions, having shown at various venues locally and internationally, and is also a curator. He is an instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Cherry Trees For International Friendship

Cherry blossoms have deep significance in Japanese culture and are a traditional motif in art, literature and cuisine. The ephemeral blossoms only last for about two weeks before fluttering to the ground, recalling the vibrancy and impermanence of life. The cherry is a symbolic national flower in Japan and is sometimes offered to other nations as a symbol of friendship.

It was in this spirit that the Japanese Government gave 1,600 flowering trees including cherry trees to Philadelphia in 1926 in honor of the 150th anniversary of American Independence.  In 1998, The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia continued this legacy and began a ten-year, 1,000 tree planting campaign, which was completed in 2007.  The Cherry Blossom Festival of Philadelphia celebrates the goodwill between Philadelphia and Japan as embodied by the cherry trees.

The Japanese Government and the Japan Cherry Blossom Association have made gifts of cherry trees all around the world. Besides Philadelphia’s Festival, there are Cherry Blossom Festivals across the United States, including Washington DC, San Francisco, and Macon, Georgia just to name a few. In 1952 cuttings from the original gift trees from Japan were donated to Japan by the United States to help augment cherry trees along the Arakawa River whose care had been neglected during the war.

About the Cherry Trees

While the majority of cherry blossom trees (sakura) are one of two common varieties, there are actually over 100 ornamental cherry tree species, each with different characteristics of hardiness, form, size, habit, blossom color and blooming periods.

Blossom colors can be deep pink to white with any number of single or double petals ranging in size from 3/4 inch to 1 1/2 inches. Cherry bark and branches are also admired for their glossy beauty during the winter. Some species add to fall’s foliage display with a spectacular show of leaf color, and at least one species even blossoms in the autumn. Due to the large north-south geographic stretch of Japan, cherry blossoms bloom between January and late May, earlier in the south than in the north.

The variable spring weather in Japan and the national interest in the delicate blossoms has led to the inclusion of sakura-zensen, or the cherry blossom blooming line, into news weather forecasts. These forecasts help with the planning of o-hanami, or flower viewing, a popular and centuries-old Japanese spring tradition that includes picnicking, singing and perhaps sipping sake under cherry trees in full bloom.

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