NCSS Cherry Blossom Program
The Cherry Blossom Program is a week-long program that was started in 1948 to celebrate the gift of the Cherry Blossom Trees from Japan to the United States and continues to celebrate the friendship between our two countries. The program offers cultural, educational, and professional development opportunities for young women leaders, ages 19 through 24, from across the United States and around the world. The program takes place each year during the National Cherry Blossom Festival© in Washington, DC and is proudly managed by the National Conference of State Societies.
Applications for the 2024 program are now open!
About the Program
Young women leaders are selected by their State/Territorial Society or International Embassy to be Cherry Blossom Delegates based on their leadership and academic achievements along with their interest in social, civic, community, and world affairs. As Cherry Blossom Delegates, you will represent your respective state, territory or country in both public and private events held each day across the Washington, DC area and engage with top government, business, arts, and media leaders. Alumnae of the Cherry Blossom Program include leaders in many fields including government, business, science, education, and the arts worldwide. Two current U.S. Senators, the Honorable Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and the Honorable Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, are both alumnae of the Program.
In the past decade alone, the Cherry Blossom Delegates have; toured the White House, attended events at the Japanese Ambassador’s Residence; visited Arlington Cemetery, The Institute for Peace, Women's Museum, Kennedy Center and the National Moments; performed community service for the homeless, promoted literacy at local elementary schools; and learn about the Japanese culture and the friendship between our two countries.
The Cherry Blossom Queen
Each year a US Cherry Blossom Queen is selected among the class. Each Dekegate has been selected by their State Society based on their achievements and all the US Delegates are qualified to represent the United States. Therefore, it is the tradition of the program that the US Queen is selected by the spinning of a wheel. The wheel is spun once for the Runner Up and a second time for the Queen.
The Queen then gets the opportunity to visit Japan on a good will tour to celebrate the Friendship between the United States and Japan. She visits Tokyo and is hosted by the Japan Sakura Foundation and visit with many of the local dignitaries and the Prime Minister. She also is hosted by the Gakudo Kofu Founation in Ise City, where she visits Pearl Island. This year the US Queen visited Shikuoka, where the research laboratory that created the Cherry Blossom Trees the surround the Tidal Basin were developed. It is an amazing experience!
Founded in 1948, the Cherry Blossom Program is a cultural exchange program honoring the friendship fostered by the gift of the cherry blossom trees to the United States from Japan over a century ago. For more than seventy years, young women recognized in their communities for their leadership and accomplishments have been chosen by their state societies to represent their home state or territory during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
Serving as goodwill representatives, the women are given the opportunity to share their passion for cultural affairs with likeminded women. Over the past 75 years, these women have engaged with foreign diplomats, first ladies, presidents, members of congress, and other business and community leaders to help strengthen bilateral relations on behalf of their state or territory.
Today, more than 3,000 women have served as Cherry Blossom Delegates since the program was founded. The alumni network of women leaders who participated in the program spans across the globe and is comprised of executives and entrepreneurs in many fields including government, business, media, education, and the arts.
The Cherry Blossom Program is run by the National Conference of State Societies (NCSS). NCSS is the only civic organization to continuously participate in National Cherry Blossom events for over 75 years. The U.S. Congress chartered NCSS in 1952 under Public Law 82-293. It is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)4 tax-exempt non-profit organization, with an associated 501(c)3 charitable foundation.