When it comes to winning hearts and minds in springtime, it's almost impossible to beat Japan's influence in Washington. The gift of over 3,000 cherry trees from the city of Tokyo to the U.S. capital to symbolize the friendship between the two sides in 1912 is the gift that keeps on giving.

The fact that the cherry trees were never cut down, even at the height of anti-Japanese fervor during World War II, is an all-too familiar historical factoid in U.S. history. And for a few weeks in the U.S. capital, it's impossible to escape the onslaught of pink petals, used to promote everything from T-shirts to seasonal pink cocktails to limited-offer hotel packages.

It's no doubt the busiest time for the cultural attaches at the Japanese embassy, coordinating activities for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, which goes on this year until April 15.