A nearly four-century-old Japanese stone lantern used to commemorate the relationship between Japan and the United States at the National Cherry Blossom Festival, will soon have its own place of prominence at the National Mall.
A nonprofit group that works to improve the national mall will hold a groundbreaking ceremony this Sunday. A new granite plaza and walking path will be constructed to display the historic lantern. The lantern is among some of the original flowering cherry trees that were gifted to the US from Japan 101 years ago.
The construction work, which is expected to cost $400,000, will feature the lantern as its centerpiece. Construction is slated to begin after the end of the cherry blossom festival. The plaza will have the ‘raked’ sand surface of a traditional Zen garden. It will also feature natural stone boulders, along with walking paths to reach the plaza and help protect the nearby cherry trees from erosion which can damage their roots.
Each year as many as 1 million visitors come to see the cherry blossom as they reach full bloom. President of the nonprofit Trust for the Nationa Mall, Caroline Cunningham says the organizers wanted to pay tribute to Washington’s relationship with Japan among the cherry blossom, following the 100th anniversary last year of the gift of the trees from Japan. A plaque which commemorated the 1912 gift of cherry trees will also be moved to the new plaza.