Nashville’s history with cherry blossom trees

Cherry blossom trees at Public Square Park | Photo via Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival

With trees in bloom across Nashville  — a sure sign that spring is here to stay — have you ever wondered why the city is home to so many cherry blossom trees?

The story dates back to 2008 when the Consulate-General of Japan relocated here from New Orleans to oversee the United States–Japan relations for Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Hiroshi Sato, Nashville’s first Japanese consul-general, worked with Sister Cities of Nashville + the Japan-America Society of Tennessee to launch an event honoring cherry blossoms, or sakura, the national flower of Japan.

The Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival formed the following spring with a mission to plant 1,000 cherry blossom trees across the city over the next decade to symbolize the bond between Nashville and Japan

Now with a backdrop of blossoming cherry trees, the festival has grown to attract thousands to Public Square Park each April for a day of Japanese music and dance, martial arts demonstrations, and more. Lest we forget, Nashvillians cherish our cherry blossom trees so much, that nearly 90,000 people signed this petition to stop the removal of 21 trees in 2019.

Despite canceling this year’s in-person festival, event organizers are keeping its spirit alive by encouraging residents to get out and enjoy the blooms on their own. You can also watch video highlights from the virtual 2020 Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival on the festival’s Facebook page at 6:30 p.m. on April 10.

Bonus: Get a head start with our interactive map here, where we’ve highlighted more than 35 parks + neighborhoods across Nashville with cherry blossom trees. #ProTip, if you click on each pin on the map, you can see photos of the trees on display at each location.