Japan’s TBS network devoted a recent episode of its “Mystery Hunter” series to cherry blossoms. A TV crew filmed me last month discussing Eliza Scidmore’s role in bringing cherry trees to Washington, D.C. The episode aired in Japan two days ago, on March 18.
What a hard-working bunch the crew was. They arrived in Washington on a Friday afternoon, after the long trip from Japan. Soon after landing at Dulles Airport they arrived at our house in Falls Church, Va. They then did four hours of nonstop taping — with steady interpreting!
Happily, our yellow sunroom felt cozy on one of the most bitterly cold weekends of the year. A shot of birds at the feeder outside our picture window made a nice touch in the film.
The crew was thrilled I had a first-edition copy of Scidmore’s 1891 book Jinrikisha Days in Japan. I had bought it on eBay a few years ago for fifty bucks. It’s fragile and crumbly, but wonderful to see in the original.
For the TV program — a mix of game show and field adventure — I discussed Scidmore’s dream of creating a “Mukojima on the Potomac.” She got the idea in part from a mile-long avenue of cherry trees in Tokyo a century ago. I visited Mukojima in 2013.
To continue the filming, I met the TV crew again on Sunday in downtown Washington. We gathered by the Tidal Basin in Potomac Park. At a spot there on the north bank, two cherry trees planted in March 1912 still survive. They were among the gift of 3,000 sent from Japan.
Potomac Park in mid-winter was bleak. Fortunately, production coordinator Keiji “Jinn” Nishimura told me his group also filmed the city’s cherry trees at peak bloom last spring.
It was a joy to meet and work with such talented professionals.
After leaving me at mid-afternoon, they headed across town to film another Washington icon: Ben’s Chili Bowl.