Have you seen the Gifts of Friendship stamps released in the U.S. and Japan? The stamps celebrate the exchange of flowering tree gifts between the US and Japan. In 1912, the US received a gift of over three thousand flowering cherry trees from Japan. In 1915, the U.S. returned the favor by sending fifty dogwood trees to Japan. These stamps celebrate the 100th anniversary of that gift.
Since I am a huge lover of cherry blossoms, I preordered loads of the U.S. version to use on my spring mail. I also asked my sister-in-law if she would buy a sheet of the Japanese version for my stamp collection. Lucky for me, a care package arrived from Japan this weekend (with lots of treats for Naoto and me!) and two sheets of the Japanese stamps were tucked inside. I really love the U.S. version, even though they are reminiscent of the cherry blossom stamps issued a few years ago for the centennial of the 1912 cherry tree gifts. The US sheet contains ten of the US stamps and features two of the Japanese version (but for use in the U.S.). I think the colors on the U.S. version are perfectly springy with the pretty blue skies and pinks and corals and pale purples of the flowering trees. And the Japanese ones are lovely, featuring close-ups of the cherry blossoms and dogwood blooms with Japan’s Diet (Congress) and Constitutional Memorial Clocktower respectively in the backgrounds. The Japanese sheet contains the US and Japanese versions as well as six other stamps that highlight the white dogwood, cherry, and red dogwood branches on a simple cream background. I love that Japan added this variety to their edition. On the US versions, the writing is very spare, just noting USA, 2015, and the “Forever” denomination on the stamps in plain black text. The Japanese versions are accented with gold text of the 82 yen denomination and “Japan-U.S. Flowering Dogwood Centennial” in both English and Japanese. The U.S. version is much more spare than the Japanese version, which seems to celebrate the exchange with both countries’ flags and the flowering trees decorating the sheet.
I do love both versions and it’s not often that two countries can go head-to-head in a sheet of stamps battle. But I do think, in this case, because of the variety and the gold details that this is another case of Japan Does It Better!
To see the rest of the Japan Does It Better posts, go here.