National Conference of State Societies

Official Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony

Presented by the National Park Service & National Conference of State Societies

The Japanese Stone Lantern was presented in 1954 to Washington, D.C., as a gift to commemorate the 100th anniversary of America’s first treaty with Japan. It is lit only once a year during the Cherry Blossom Festival by the Cherry Blossom Princess representing Japan. Standing 8.5 feet tall and weighing approximately 4,000 pounds, it was carved nearly four centuries ago to honor the Third Shogun of the Tokugawa period. It stands 50 feet east of the first two cherry blossom trees planted by First Lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Chinda (wife of the Japanese ambassador) in 1912, and it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Join NCSS and the National Park Service for the traditional lighting of the Japanese Stone Lantern, located amidst the cherry blossom trees. The lantern is approximately 375 years old and was given as a gift by Japan in 1954.

The musical Prelude starts at 2:30 PM, with the ceremony beginning at 3 PM until 4:30 PM. This ceremony marks the first public appearance of the 2023 U.S. Cherry Blossom Princesses.


What began with a gift in 1912 at the Tidal Basin is now a four-week extravaganza spanning Washington, DC, and neighboring communities in Maryland and Virginia. From exciting events to convenient hotels, delectable Cherry Picks restaurants, vibrant Art in Bloom installations, and a jaw-dropping City in Bloom to joyful Petal Porches, see the Washington, DC area, as you can only see it once a year!

Explore the Festival's Roots

Travel to Japan is open once again, and we invite you experience and explore Japan firsthand. Learn more about the Festival partners who would love to help you plan your trip!