For almost a thousand years, Japanese and southeast Asians have celebrated the beauty of sakura, Japanese cherry blossoms, in a spring festival of renewal, hope and peace called Hanami. It began as a Japanese celebration of the end of winter snows and the appearance of the spring cherry blossoms. For farmers, Hanami marked the time to plant their spring rice crops. Hope and optimism for the future marked this spring celebration.
Hanami is especially suited to Jackson Park. Located beside beautiful Lake Michigan, it was the site chosen to host the 1893 World’s Fair and reintroduce Chicago to the world following the Chicago Fire. Japan built the Phoenix Pavilion on the Wooded Island as a symbol of hope and peace and maintained its support for the Japanese Gardens and the Sister Cities program since the Fair.
After 120 years, Jackson Park has been revitalized again with beautiful new paths, lagoon wetlands, and new nature areas and a Garden of the Phoenix and Sky Landing Sculpture. In 2013, a team led by Project 120, the Japanese American Chamber of Commerce, the Chicago Park District, and JPAC volunteers planted 170 ornamental cherry trees around the Columbia Lagoon adjacent to the Museum of Science and Industry. In 2021, these 170 cherry trees matured enough to fully burst into beautiful clouds of pink and white blossoms.
Thousands of visitors from all over the United States have come to celebrate the Jackson Park Hanami under our blossoming cherry trees. We send a major "Thank you" to the JPAC volunteers who have greeted and introduced these visitors to the Gardens of the Phoenix, Sky Landing, and the Sakura cherry blossoms.
Timing is everything! Cherry blossoms are ephemeral and last only between 7-10 days and visitors must quickly see them before they disappear. The Jackson Park Fieldhouse has received hundreds of calls daily from around the US about the blooming dates and location of our cherry trees.
After this long and deadly COVID pandemic season, there is no better time than the present to experience the sense of beauty, optimism, and hope that the blossoming cherry trees in Jackson Park offer to our diverse cultures.
Louise McCurry, Jackson Park Advisory Council President