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The National Cherry Blossom Festival Begins; Organizers Encourage Donations to Aid Japan (VIDEO)

Ahhh it’s cherry blossom season. The

National Cherry Blossom Festival

kicks off this week in the nation’s capital, and this year festival organizers are encouraging all participants to

donate money

to earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in Japan.

The festival celebrates the long-standing friendship between the United States and Japan, dating back to 1912 when the mayor of Tokyo gifted 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington.

If you don’t live in the area, the National Park Service has set up a live feed via


. The festival lasts until April 10.