The Japanese Stone Lantern, located among the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin, is quite a bit older than its adopted city, Washington, D.C.
The lantern was first lit in 1651 in Japan to mark the death of Tokugawa Iemitsu, third shogun of the Tokugawa Dynasty. It was he who closed Japan’s borders to foreigners, a policy that was to last for 200 years.
Given in 1954 by the governor of Tokyo to symbolize friendship and peace between Japan and the United States, the lantern is the oldest freestanding man-made stone structure in Washington that is not in a museum.
Eight and a half feet tall, the lantern is made of solid granite and weighs six tons. It is lit just once a year in a formal ceremony during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a joint production of the National Conference of States Societies and the National Park Service, National Capital Region.
This year’s honored guest at the April 7 lighting ceremony was Japan’s Ambassador to the United States Shinsuke Sugiyama.
View Jeff Malet’s photos from the Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony on Sunday, April 7, by clicking on the photo icons below.