This year is the 100th anniversary of a rather special gift... from Japan to the United States.

It all started with a tree-planting ceremony that involved the former US First Lady, Helen Herron Taft, and Viscountess Chinda, the wife of the Japanese Ambassador to the US.

The trees - cherry blossoms - mark the coming of spring, every year and are an integral part of Japanese culture and spirituality. The trees that now grace the Jefferson Memorial on the Tidal Basin, as well as the peninsula known as the East Potomac Park, in Washington DC, in the US, were part of a gift given in 1912.

Every year since then, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is celebrated in the American capital, as a reminder of the enduring friendship between the peoples of the two nations. As part of the celebrations, several events are planned... to promote traditional and contemporary arts and culture, as well as natural beauty and community spirit.

Many events are planned that promote traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty, and community spirit.

The areas within the National Mall & Memorial Park provide visitors with ample opportunities to commemorate presidential legacies, honor the courage and sacrifice of war veterans and celebrate the United States' commitment to freedom and equality.

The cherry blossom flowers in full bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington, March 19, 2012. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the gift from Japan to the United States that started with a planting ceremony between then U.S. First lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador.Reuters
Cherry blossom flowers in full bloom surround the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, March 19, 2012. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the gift from Japan to the United States that started with a planting ceremony between then U.S. First lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador.Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama's limousine passes Cherry Blossoms as his motorcade drives from the U.S. Capitol to the White House following a lunch in commemoration of St Patrick's Day in Washington, March 20, 2012.Reuters
The cherry blossom trees in full bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington, March 19, 2012. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the gift from Japan to the United States that started with a planting ceremony between then U.S. First lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador.Reuters
Score: 71.5 Park Acreage: 7,464 acres Largest Park: Rock Creek Park (part) at 1,754 acres Most Visited Park: National MallReuters
A woman takes a photograph of a cherry blossom tree on the Tidal Basin in Washington, March 18, 2012. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the gift from Japan to the United States that started with a planting ceremony between then U.S. First lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador.Reuters