First Lady Helen (Nellie) Taft, wife of U.S. Pres. William Howard Taft, and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two cherry trees in Washington DC. The trees are Yoshino cherries, and are still standing several hundred yards west of the John Paul Jones statue at the south end of 17th Street. There are now over 3700 cherry trees on the Tidal Basin in Wash. DC.
There were a few obstacles and problems getting the trees to the U.S. The first batch of 2000 trees arrived diseased in 1910, but many people in both governments got involved to replace the damaged gifted trees. In March 1912, 3000 trees arrived and a simple ceremony was held with the two first ladies planting the first trees.
There is an annual National Cherry Blossom Festival that now attracts over 1.5 million visitors.