The term hanami gets thrown around a lot in Japan and conjures up different images for different people. The general gist is the same: You spread out a blanket and watch some flowers. The most popular time to hanami is usually end of March or early April when the cherry blossoms (sakura) come out for their very limited bloom.
Japanese Cherry Blossoms (Sakura)
Did you know the Japanese Meteorological Agency releases a cherry blossom forecast each year? Catching the sight of these blossoms is a very important tradition for many Japanese people and coincides with many important events, such as graduation ceremonies and entrance ceremonies for schools and universities. When they are in full bloom, the trees are these ephemeral tufts of light pink and white that give off a very magical vibe if you’ve never experienced them before. Having lived in Florida most of my life, a very inhospitable place for these trees, seeing so many of these trees and really appreciating them for the first time is a delightful treat!
How to Hanami
Figuring out how to hanami is very easy. If you’ve ever been on a picnic, you already know how to hanami! Some Japanese people really go all-out for their hanami: they’ll bring portable grills and cook up some savory meats or fish, they’ll bring small stools to sit on, and of course you’ll see many with expensive cameras and telescoping lenses to really see the flowers.
The most challenging part is finding out where to hanami. Asking those who have been here a while is a good start, as is internet searching. Google Maps changes certain locations to pretty little pink flower icons to indicate that it is a good spot to view cherry blossoms around this time of year as well. Another good strategy, albeit time-consuming, is to canvas your neighborhood to find where the cherry trees are. The banks of rivers and local parks are always a good place to start.
Know that the blossoms don’t stick around long: from the time of blooming to about one week later, you’ll see about half of the blossoms fall, with the rest disappearing before the second week’s end. Time is of the essence with sakura hanami!
With that, I hope you all are having a happy hanami season! Are there any other flowers you like to go out and appreciate? Let me know in the comments!