The Arts of Japan Festival is a prelude to the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a two-week showcase of Japanese culture that honors the continuing friendship between the United States and Japan. The celebration, highlighted by the National Cherry Blossom Festival parade, begins March 31 and concludes on April 14. Here are some festival highlights:
Throughout the festival
Stamp collectors can add a National Cherry Blossom Festival Postal Cancellation to their collection, from 10 a.m. until 5: 30 p.m. at the National Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
"The Kimono Inspiration: Art and Art to Wear In America" is on display at the Textile Museum throughout the festival from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The museum is at 2326 S St. N.W. Call (202) 667-0441.
U.S. Navy Memorial concerts take place at noon weekdays throughout the festival, at the U.S. Navy Memorial, Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. between 7th and 9th streets. Call (202) 737-2300, Ext. 768.
The exhibit "Homage to Nature: Landscape Kimonos by Itchiku Kubota" is on display at the National Museum of Natural History. The museum is at Constitution Avenue at 10th St. N.W. Call (202) 357-2458.
Sunday, March 31
Watch 6,000 entrants start the Nortel Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Race at 8 a.m., along West Potomac Park and across Memorial Bridge. Call (301) 340-6699.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony features the crowning of the 1996 Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and a lantern lighting ceremony. The event takes place at 1 p.m. at 6th and Water streets S.W. Call (202) 547-1500.
The 6th Annual Cherry Blossom Arts Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. aboard the Spirit of Washington, moored at Pier 4, 6th and Water streets S.W. Call (202) 882-0879.
Thursday, April 4
The Fife and Drum Corps, Geneva, Switzerland, performs on the west side of the Ellipse, 10 a.m.
Saturday, April 6
Blessing of the fleet, noon at the U.S. Navy Memorial and Naval Heritage Center, Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., between 7th and 9th streets.
Tuesday, April 9
The Jiki Shinkageryu Performance, an avant-garde exhibition, is featured 11: 30 a.m. until 1: 30 p.m. at Union Station.
Thursday, April 11
National Cherry Blossom Festival tree-planting ceremony, 3 p.m. at Fort Lesley J. McNair.
Saturday, April 13
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade begins at 9: 30 a.m. and proceeds along Constitution Avenue between Seventh and 17th streets.
35th Annual Sakura Matsuri (Japanese Festival), sponsored by the Japan-America Society of Washington, featuring Japanese and American performing artists, Japanese arts, crafts, folk tales and delicacies. Noon to 5 p.m. at Freedom Plaza, between 13th and 14th streets, off Pennsylvania Avenue. Call (202) 833-2210.
30th Annual National Cherry Blossom Festival Rugby Tournament. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial. (The tournament takes place April 14, as well.) Call (202) 625-4235.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Regatta/Annual George Washington University Invitational Crew Classic. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The course begins near the Spout Run area of the Potomac River with the finish line at Washington Harbour in Georgetown. Call (202) 994-8604.