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.
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.