WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT JAPAN’S CHERRY BLOSSOMS SEASON
Spring season has finally arrived in the Northern hemisphere. Just like me, people got very excited about the floral season. But in Japan, there is a fifth season that is enjoyed by both locals and foreign visitors. It is called the cherry blossoms (sakura) season.
It is so popular in the country and all over the world that people looked forward to this event. In fact, there are numerous reasons behind this very special season. Let’s find out more.
4 REASONS THAT CHERRY BLOSSOMS ARE CELEBRATED
- History and cultural significance. Hanami (flower viewing) has a very interesting history. It dates back to Nara Period around the 8th Century when it was plum (ume) blossoms that people admired in the beginning. But after that during the Heian period, people consider sakura more attractive and festive.
- Cherryblossoms’ unique beauty. The three flowers that bloom during this season are plum, cherry blossoms, and peach bloom. They are commonly mistaken by some people because of their similarities but nevertheless, they all consist of five petals and colors ranging from white to dark pink. You can identify them apart by the distinctive shape of their petals.
- Celebrate new beginnings. This time of the year is significant for most Japanese people because it marks the beginning of school and corporate year. Employees start their jobs and children in their first year of school attend entrance ceremonies.
- Global Friendship. Some countries outside Japan has their own hanami and spring celebration in honor of global friendship. Cherry blossom trees in these countries were given as a gift from the Japanese government.
In the final days of cherry blossom season, you will notice that petals fall down from the trees and are blown by the wind. It is called “sakura fubuki” which means sakura snowstorm. This is not just an ordinary sight to see but the massive petals that fall down create a storm-like scenery! The petals on the ground are picture-perfect that it creates a pink carpet all over the street roads and parks.
POPULAR SPOTS TO VIEW CHERRY BLOSSOMS IN JAPAN
Sakura trees are literally everywhere in Japan. You can find them mostly on your street corners, schools, parks, and shrines but if you’re a first-time visitor, head over to Tokyo, Yokohama, Shizuoka, Kyoto, and Gunma. Although crowded, these spots have a festive atmosphere that makes your hanami even more enjoyable.
HANAMI IS ENJOYED AROUND THE WORLD
Hanami is not limited to Japan only but you will experience them in some of the world’s big cities as well. Check out the gorgeous cherry blossom parks in Hamburg, Washington DC, Vancouver, Seoul, and Stockholm.
SAKURA INSPIRED FOODS
Hanami is not complete without packing delicious foods and drinks. Still thinking about what to pack for hanami? Try sakura-flavored foods and snacks! Maybe some of you will wonder how does sakura tastes like? Well, the floral aroma isn’t really that strong but they are enhanced when blended with the food. Take, for example, the edible leaves of sakura are used for wrapping sakura mochi. The leaves itself doesn’t have much flavor but it is pickled and salted to boost the taste. The flowers can be eaten as well and you notice that they are mostly found in desserts. It is sweetened first before mixing with other ingredients.
Examples of sakura-flavored foods and drinks are sakura mochi, sakura yokan, sakura manju, sakura senbei, and sakura tea.
HOW TO ENJOY HANAMI
1. Pack a lightweight hanami bento ( lunchbox) that consists of onigiri (riceballs), tamagoyaki (rolled fried egg), fried meat and vegetables, sakura mochi, dango (skewered rice balls), fruits, and barbecue. Quench your thirst with any beverage you like.
2. Plastic sheet and portable floor cushion to make seating comfortable.
3. Disposable heat packs. Spring is still very cold for outdoor activities and a heating pad is a great relief!
4. Disposable plates, cups, and chopsticks.
5. Wet and dry tissues.
6. Bottle openers. Just in case item if someone brings wine to the party.
7. Garbage bags.
8. Camera. No hanami is complete without taking pictures.
FRIENDLY REMINDERS DURING HANAMI
1. Check the cherry blossom forecast often to see the blooms at their peak.
2. Confirm if a hanami party is allowed in the area.
3. Arrive early so you can get a spot. Popular areas get crowded easily.
4. Reserve a spot by spreading a picnic sheet. Be considerate when getting a spot. Reserve an area that is just right for the number of people in your group.
5. Do not leave garbage behind.
6. Bring items that keep you warm like jackets. It can be chilly during sakura season.
7. If you are new to the hanami experience, do as the locals do.
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a resident of Japan, cherry blossom season is just like any major holiday season that is being celebrated with festivities.