Of all the flowers in Asia, without a doubt the most famous is the Japanese Cherry Blossom, or Sakura. Images all over the island depict this beautiful flower blooming a gorgeous pink, decorating the trees all over both the countryside and many parks of Japan. It is a celebrated tradition by the Japanese to truly take in the breath-taking scenery of the Sakura’s with walks and festivals. This type of viewing is known as Hanami, which translates to “flower watching”.
Hanami usually happens between March and May, although it differs for each prefecture. In these two months, Japanese people stroll with their friends or family down to the parks outside their cities to sip rice wine, dine with a delicious picnic and just relax in the tranquility these serene flowers provide. People will gather from miles around to visit famous parks, like Ueno Park, where the most famous Hanami parties happen in the night under specific lanterns that decorate the Sakura trees. Music is played, and the parties usually last until the later hours of the night. Towns often schedule specific days for a larger Hanami festival, usually arranging the party to be within the two weeks that the flowers first bloom.
It usually is a surprise for foreigners just how much Japanese people love Sakura. Not only do they have Sakura incense, Sakura paintings and adorn their art with Sakura colors, but they even put Sakura petals in desserts during Hanami! In fact, it is a common joke in Japan that most people really go to Hanami festivals for the food and drink rather than looking at the flowers!
Still, what better surroundings to have when eating and drinking outside than Sakura trees?!
Any time is the best time to come to Japan, but if you really want to experience the unbridled beauty that Sakura’s can offer you, come during Hanami season!