Construction soon will begin at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on a plaza to improve the accessibility and sustainability of the area around the Japanese Stone Lantern, the historic centerpiece of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
The project will be managed by the Trust for the National Mall, the official non-profit partner of the National Park Service for restoring the National Mall.
The announcement comes at the occasion of the 60th annual Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony, jointly conducted by the National Conference of State Societies (NCSS) and the National Park Service National Capital Region, celebrating the peace and friendship between Japan and the United States.
The site, at the northwest corner of the Tidal Basin, will include the installation of a new pathway and a granite plaza with natural boulders at the Stone Lantern and the relocation of a nearby plaque that commemorates the 1912 gift of the cherry trees to the proposed plaza. The project will also include work to protect the Lantern and nearby cherry trees from soil erosion and compaction.
The landscape enhancements to the Japanese lantern and the adjacent memorial stone on the Tidal Basin was conceived last year as part of the Japan-U.S. Cherry Blossom Centennial celebration and was designed by Kurisu International, a landscape design-build firm dedicated to creating restorative garden environments.
“We are incredibly honored to have the opportunity to oversee this important project,” said Caroline Cunningham, president of the Trust for the National Mall. “The Stone Lantern is an iconic symbol of the Cherry Blossom Festival and the valued friendship between the United States and Japan. The renovation and restoration work around the Lantern will greatly enhance the visitors' experiences creating a peaceful place along the Tidal Basin.”
The Tidal Basin landscape enhancement project is sponsored by the Government of Japan, the Japan Commerce Association of Washington, D.C., and the JCAW Foundation.
“This area around the Japanese lantern is where the original cherry trees from Japan were planted in 1912. When the project is finished, people will be able to learn of the site's historical significance and be reminded of the importance of the friendship between Japan and the United States,” said Masato Otaka, Minister for Public Affairs at the Embassy of Japan in the U.S.A.
“Japan Commerce Association of Washington, D.C. has been working together with the JCAW Foundation on this project. We are extremely delighted that the contribution by the Japanese business community will help ensure that millions of visitors will be able to enjoy the Lantern and the cherry trees for generations to come,” said Tsunehiko Yanagihara, president of the Japan Commerce Association of Washington, D.C. (JCAW).
The ceremonial groundbreaking will be part of the lantern lighting ceremony today, April 7, from 2:30-4:45 pm at the Tidal Basin at Independence Avenue and 17th Street, S.W. Construction will begin shortly after the Cherry Blossom Festival ends and is expected to be completed by mid-summer.