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National Cherry Blossom's Stone Lantern To Get A New Home

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This stone lantern, currently located at Independence Avenue east of West Basin Drive in Washington, D.C., symbolizes the cultural relationship between Japan and the U.S. after World War II.
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This stone lantern, currently located at Independence Avenue east of West Basin Drive in Washington, D.C., symbolizes the cultural relationship between Japan and the U.S. after World War II.

The 360-year-old stone lantern that's use during the lighting ceremony to honor the bond between Japan and the U.S. during the Cherry Blossom Festival is getting a new home.

The lantern will be moved to a more prominent spot on the northwestern edge of the Tidal Basin.

Once the Cherry Blossom Festival ends, construction on a new plaza, which will house the Japanese lantern in its center, will begin. The plaza will look like a Zen garden, with natural boulders and a granite base.

Teresa Durkin is the senior project director at the Trust for the National Mall, a nonprofit group working on the project with the National Park Service.

"The designer of the plaza is Hoichi Kurisu," says Durkin. "In order to get that feeling of the hand-raked garden, he's actually going to hand-etch into the granite pavers into those lines."

Durkin says the project will give the historic lantern more prominence, and highlights the friendship between the United States and Japan.

"Right now there's nothing there around the lantern itself," she says. "It just sits on the turf. So we thought it would be a wonderful thing to create an actual plaza surrounding the lantern where people can stand and actually attend the lighting ceremony, which happens every year."

The Japanese government and the Japan Commerce Association are sponsoring the $400,000 project, which is expected to be completed by July 4.

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