Cherry Blossoms – Hanami Festival
Ever heard about the celebration of budding cherry blossom trees? Hanami is the thousand year old Japanese traditional custom of rejoicing at the bloom of ‘sakura’ or cherry blossom trees and their beautiful flowers; it’s an annual spring celebration that is celebrated with great pleasure and jubilance and taken very seriously. Amazingly, it is one of Japan’s top ten cultural events.
Sakura start blooming in February and wrap the whole country in their charm until early May. The opening of the Sakura buds is tracked quite carefully, and the blooming forecast is made each year by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
The Hanami festival is awaited so much that the blossoming of the buds is shown on the daily news, but the Japanese set out to celebrate Hanami in its full fervor only after official opening of the season has been announced with respect to the cherry blossom trees at Yasukuni shrine.
Getting this news at its earliest is considered quite important for party planning as the seasons lasts for only a week or two.
Hanami literally means “flower viewing”, and people celebrate it by picnicking amidst the cherry blossoms, and these picnic parties that last way into the night are quite a big gathering. This festival is one way that Japanese have found to unplug from their stressful lives and tune back into nature.
Japanese like to celebrate Hanami in its complete splendor, and hence plan extensively. Some of them actually claim picnicking spots beforehand, while others casually stroll around a venue and spend time walking around sakura trees.
In essence, it is all about enjoying the budding of cherry blossom flowers, which in itself turns out to be quite a refreshing experience., however the party crowd, especially goes out to picnic for the food and drinks.
Rivers, gardens, and parks are known as the popular Hanami celebration spots, but some places are really famous for their much talked about cherry blossom festivals.
Another prime spot is the Ueno Park in Tokyo. Its 1200 cherry blossom trees create a stunning sight for their beholders when they flourish in all their glory.
The blossom viewing tunnel at Japan Mint, Osaka is another eminent spot, known for its 100 cherry blossom varieties on display, that are greatly admired by the public. The Yoshino-yama Mountain in the Nara Prefectur that boasts home to a 30000 sakura trees, has one of the most spectacular and mesmerizing views, and attracts thousands of people to its festival as well. One has to be careful about the festival celebrating dates of each location to not miss the glamour of Hanami that they have to offer.
Food and drink stalls or ‘yakai’ can be found at various spots, selling delectable food varieties like okonomiyaki (savory vegetable and meat pancake), yakisoba (fried noodles) and takoyaki (octopus dumpling), and you can’t just avoid them if you are a foodie.
Did you ever think that cherry blossom flowers could be a part of any meal? Well you’re in for surprise: Japanese not only like to see them, they like to eat them too. The pink flower is usually salted before it is added to a dish, and is consumed in tea too!
People seeking out a refreshing and serene holiday in spring, should definitely visit Japan’s Hanami festivals and they would be spellbound by the natural beauty and charm of the cherry blossom trees in Japan. And if you’re interesting in learning more about this beautiful event, The Cherry Blossom Festival: Sakura Celebration book was amazing.