Even Ambassadors Get Ticketed

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There were Cherry Blossom princesses and tables full of sushi and tempura. But when the ambassador of Japan hosted a reception celebrating Washington's Cherry Blossom Festival, he had something else on his mind: dollars and yen. "Let's talk about money," opened Ambassador Ryozo Kato with a joke. The festival, a tradition since Tokyo's mayor donated the original cherry trees to Washington in 1912, is big business locally, he said to laughter. "You can hear the cash registers ringing." And not just for trinkets but often for parking tickets, because there are few legal spots near the trees. Kato says he should know. "Let me assure you, I have written a few checks to the D.C. treasurer."

With Silla Brush, Suzi Parker, and Thomas Omestad