Spring has finally sprung, and everything is coming up pink in Washington D.C. — the centennial National Cherry Blossom Festival has kicked off for D.C. residents to enjoy the blooming scenery. While we love a good flower, we're more excited about the food possibilities. Because the cherry blossom trees were a gift from the country of Japan to the U.S. back in 1912, the symbolic tree has inspired Japanese tradition, culture, and food. Here are our picks for this week:
The 52nd Annual Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival promises 25 food vendors of tasty Japanese cuisine, plus a Hakutsuru Sake tasting pavilion and two Kirin Ichiban Beer Gardens, on top of Japanese entertainment, celebrity spottings, and shopping markets. What could be more spring-like than a beer garden?
The Tudor Place Historic House and Gardens will host the "Hanami, the Art of the Cherry Blossom" event for those interested in the history of the tradition. To celebrate "hanami" (the Japanese word for viewing cherry blossoms), check out 19th-century vases while tasting Asian cuisine. Plus, the house has created its own house drink, the Hanami Rum Fizz, for the occasion — sounds delicious.
To support the recovery efforts from last year's earthquake in Japan, the Hanami After Dark benefit/art auction features the best Japan has to offer: a traditional Maguro Kaitai ceremony by chef Toru Oga, a sushi bar, sake, shoju, and wine.
For a traditional tea ceremony that ages back to 400 years ago, head to the Tea Gathering at Ippakutei, hosted at the Embassy of Japan's tea house. Sip tea while you observe the cherry trees up close.
Get out in the sunshine at the first-ever bike/food tour of the cherry blossoms, with D.C.'s Bike and Roll. The three-hour tour takes you through the hidden foodie spots of D.C.'s neighborhoods like DuPont Circle, U Street, and Logan Circle (while avoiding the crowds on the National Mall).
Far from D.C. but want a taste of cherry blossoms? Easy — make a Sake Cherry Blossom.