Sakura trees bloom once a year only for a few days, so it is such a valuable and long-awaited time. It begins in January in Okinawa, which lies in the subtropical zone and through the next weeks of March and April flowers bloom in successive prefectures, to end this cycle with the beginning of May on Hokkaido. It is a signal that the spring is coming and the tradition is to organize picnics under the Sakura trees. Hanami is starting.
Sumida Park Tokyo
Sakura trees are valuable to the Japanese from ancient times, and the tradition of admiring flowering trees goes back over 1000 years. The Japanese then began to gain a distinct cultural identity, and among the aristocrats there was a habit of visiting the forest to see blooming flowers on cherry trees. They also planted sakura in their gardens and organized banquets in the open air. Hanami was limited to the aristocracy, but in the eighteenth century, all social classes began to sit under blooming trees. Shogun Yoshimune came up with the idea of creating a park with cherry trees at Edo, which was open to all residents. During the Hanami, an ordinary people from Edo brought sake and food to the park and organized parties in the open air, leaving everyday worries behind. It quickly became an annual tradition.
One of the most popular places on Hanami – the Meguro River in Tokyo
The most iconic variety of cherry blossom for these viewing party is called Somei-yoshino. It was developed specifically as an ornamental tree and planted widely in parks and along roads beginning in the mid 19th century. While there are more than 300 Japanese varieties of cherry blossom, the Somei-yoshino accounts for about 80% of all the cherry trees in the country. The Somei-yoshino is known for its fast growth. It was cross bred by people so cannot produce seeds and can only be propagated by grafting. This means all its flowers are the same color and shape. Any birds and insect come near Somei-yoshino because it doesn’t provide any food: seeds or nectar.
Miyajima Island and …Sika Deer!
Sika deer like to eat cherry blossoms very much omnomnom
We can admire cherry blossoms only once a year and each year the Japanese continue the tradition of enjoying their fleeting beauty. Families, friends and work colleagues gather under the branches of blooming flowers to admire them, to eat Japanese festival food and drink sake or beer. The area directly under cherries is very valuable and limited, everyone wants to participate in Hanami and every year more and more tourists come to this event. Companies from the very early morning send the youngest to the age and seniority of employees to take care of places for the afternoon Hanami. Everyone spreads the characteristic blue mats, available in every store only at this time of the year.
Shinjuku Gyoen Tokyo
Nobody can appreciate the beauty around him, just like the Japanese do. Hanami is one of many examples. People spend every day of Hanami in parks, rivers, temples and other places where sakura blossoms. They walking, looking at the flowers from close up and taking pictures. This is the time when they can slow down for a moment, forget about problems and enjoy the coming spring.
Another very popular place to enjoy Sakura Trees in Tokyo – Chidorigafuchi must be seen both during the day and at night
Limited edition products are available in stores for Hanami. Sweets, snacks or drinks flavored with cherry blossoms, or only referring to them with color. Traditional mochi wrapped in a sakura leaf, cakes with sakura flowers, tea with sakura, bagels with custard … everything has a taste or smell of sakura! The products are innumerable and new ones appear every year. In addition, you can buy Japanese street food at special stands: takoyaki, yakisoba, okonomiyaki, grilled yakitori and much, much more. Cold beer or sake and you can celebrate.
Himeji Castle and gardens
As the cherries quickly bloom, that also quickly fall, but it is also a magical moment. With every gust of wind, thousands of petals fall. This is a sign that Hanami is about to end. For next Hanami we must wait another year.
Hanami is one of the few periods when you can admire the temples of Kiyumizu-dera by night, Kyoto
Hirano Jinja Shrine in Kyoto is also known as Sakura Shrine
I invite you to the new project about Japan – Amazing Japan! It’s just launched and we want to connect all Japan Lovers and anyone who wants to know more about Japan.