The U.S. Postal Service and Japan Post have jointly issued Gifts of Friendship Forever stamps today, celebrating the American issuance during the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC.
The stamps feature beautiful images of flowering dogwood and cherry trees and honor the enduring connection between two nations on the centennial of the gift of dogwood trees from the United States to Japan in 1915.
“These trees bring renewed life each spring after the long winter months and are celebrated on both sides of the Pacific Ocean with annual festivals that echo the spirit of friendship,” said Postal Service Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Nagisa Manabe. “I’m honored to be a part of this special moment that honors our collective history and heritage.”
Joining Manabe in dedicating the stamps were National Cherry Blossom Festival President Diana Mayhew and National Conference of State Societies United States Cherry Blossom Queen Rainey Sewell, among others.
A Special Dedication Stamp Ceremony will also be held on Saturday, April 11, at 2 p.m. during the 55th Annual Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival, located at 13th Street on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.
During this event, Manabe will be joined by Ambassador John R. Malot, president of the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC; Matthew P. Goodman, senior adviser for Asian Economics and Chairman of Japan-America Society; Kenichiro Sasae, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Japan; and the Flowering Dogwood queen, Erika Minami.
Stamp artist Paul Rogers worked with art director and designer William J. Gicker to create the U.S. stamps. Japanese artist Junko Kaifuchi illustrated the stamps from Japan Post. The left side of the stamp sheet features four new stamp designs: two created by the Postal Service and two created by Japan Post. On the right side of the sheet are eight additional stamps, four each of the two U.S. designs.
The first stamp depicts the Lincoln Memorial with vibrant cherry trees in the foreground, while the second stamp depicts the U.S. Capitol building surrounded by white and pink dogwood trees. The Japanese-designed stamps feature two prominent buildings in Tokyo: the National Diet Building framed by cherry blossoms, and the clock tower outside the Diet Building rising behind a foreground of white dogwood flowers.
In a ceremony at the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., on March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two of 3,020 flowering cherry trees gifted to the nation’s capital from the city of Tokyo. As a show of gratitude for this generous gift, former President William Howard Taft arranged for the United States to send 50 flowering dogwood trees to Japan in 1915. This reciprocal gift featured a species of tree native to the eastern United States and Canada.
These gestures of goodwill fostered a rich tradition of exchanging cherry and dogwood trees that continues to this day. In 1952, the National Park Service sent bud wood from cherry trees along the Tidal Basin to Tokyo to help revitalize the cherry tree grove around the Arakawa River — the same grove where the trees sent to Washington in 1912 originated. Lady Bird Johnson received 3,800 cherry trees from Japan in 1965. They were planted around the Washington Monument and elsewhere in the District of Columbia as part of the First Lady’s efforts to beautify the capital. In 1982, Japanese horticulturalists collected approximately 800 cuttings from the Tidal Basin’s cherry trees to replace those lost when a Japanese river changed its route.