The Cherry Blossom Princess Program is a week-long program that 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.
You can apply for the program here.
About the Program
Young women leaders are selected by a State/Territorial Society or International Embassy to be Cherry Blossom Princesses based on their leadership and academic achievements along with their interest in social, civic, community, and world affairs. As Cherry Blossom Princesses, 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 Princess 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.
As Cherry Blossom Princesses, these young women represent their respective states, territories and countries at public and private events with government, business, arts and media leaders held during the week in Washington. In the past decade alone, the Cherry Blossom Princesses have met with former First Lady Laura Bush; toured the White House, attended events at the Japanese Ambassador’s Residence; visited Arlington Cemetery, The Institute for Peace, Kennedy Center and the National Moments; perform 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 Princess has been selected by their State Society based on their achievements and all the US Princesses 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 Princess 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 ambassadors, the women are giving the opportunity to share their passion for cultural affairs with likeminded women. Over the past 70 years, these ambassadors 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. At the end of the week-long program, one young woman is chosen to serve as the United States Cherry Blossom Queen. In this position, the Queen travels to Japan where she spends the week with her counterpart, the Japanese Cherry Blossom Queen, visiting with top ranking government officials and business leaders to further strengthen the friendship between the U.S. and Japan.
Today, more than 3,000 women have served as Cherry Blossom Princesses 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 Princess 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 every year for over 70 years without interruption. 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.
"During the week-long program, we met with senior women who worked at what was then called Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI - now Washingtonpost.com). I followed up with one of the presenters who had handed out her business card and I ultimately was offered an internship for the summer before my senior year of college. At the time I thought that I wanted to do public relations, but through this opportunity I discovered a talent - and love - for special events. It became the focus of the first 10 years of my career and still impacts the work I do today. I would not have been able to participate without the help of the New Jersey State Society. They were organized, supportive, and as it turns out - life changing. If I had to pay personally for all of the events that week, I would not have been able to participate. I hope today's young women will continue to benefit from this wonderful program and network." Elizabeth Claps, New Jersey 2004
“Coming into the program, I had no idea what to expect. After the first day, I was so glad I chose to apply. I’ve made such good friends who I genuinely want to stay in touch with, feel more connected to my role as a female leader in our country and learned many new things about other cultures such as Russian, Japanese and Lithuanian cultures. I would recommend this program to anyone who wants to become a better leader, meet amazing women with similar goals, and learn about other countries and how we are all connected.” Emily Foo, New York 2019
"Cherry Blossom Princess week has been one of the most special weeks of my life. I also met some truly incredible women in my princess class and at the events. We got VIP treatment to places I would never imagine visiting, like the Japanese Ambassador’s Residence and met with Members of Congress on personal level. We also spent a day giving back to the community by visiting schools and reading to children, which I really appreciated. I am so proud to be a Texan and I’m grateful to the Texas State Society for sponsoring me this week. I’ve made so many new friends and can’t wait to visit them all soon." Shreya Banerjee, Texas 2018
"When first presented with the opportunity of being a Cherry Blossom Princess I was hesitant. The title, the wardrobe restrictions, the lack of notoriety (information from previous participants) turned me off from the program. However, upon seeing the opportunities I would be faced with I changed my mind. I decided the program would provide me with unbelievable networking possibilities and would be a wonderful learning opportunity. With one day left in the program I am pleased to say I know I made the right decision. I have met so many strong women through this experience and attained so much valuable and applicable advice and I cannot recommend this program enough. You do not need to be a future politician, lawyer or lobbyist to reap the benefits of this program. As an artist interested in the business side of the industry, I know that all young women can profit from this experience." Kaitlin Barker, Louisiana 2018
"The Cherry Blossom Princess Program has been the most rewarding, humbling and empowering experience. This program is much more than being a princess for a week, it is developing leadership skills, learning how to serve as a diplomat, how to conduct proper networking, learning about other cultures and much more. I recommend this program to everyone." Sophie Czerniecki, New Jersey 2018
“I am so glad I participated in this program because I wouldn’t have made the friends I did or experience the many wonderful events we attended. I learned a lot about leadership and presenting myself in front of a large group of people and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn that if I hadn’t been a cherry blossom princess. I would definitely recommend this program to other girls in the future. The Cherry Blossom Princess Program is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it was one of the best decisions I made." Jeri Freirich, Missouri 2019
“I cannot emphasize enough how the Princess Program is so important and valuable to today’s society. This is a program that brings young women leaders together. We as a group go through so many cultural and professional experiences and along the way, met so many women – inspiring role models. From this program, I easily felt the empowerment amongst the princesses, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to meet everyone.” Alicia Zeng, Nebraska 2019
"I am not the kind of girl who feels comfortable in a dress and heels. Yet, this week, I met amazing young women very different from myself who continually prove to me that even a “simple small town girl” belonged in D.C. What blew my mind was knowing that every woman here was accomplished and ambitious. We have allies in each other rather than competition." Abeeha Shamshad, Ohio 2019