Hanami season in Japan is a very special time. The cherry blossoms start to bloom bringing the arrival of beautiful spring, and everyone wants to get together and have a good time. But, the blossoms don’t last forever, so it’s essential to plan well if you want to have the ultimate hanami party!
Hanami 花見 is Japanese for ‘flower watching’, and is the name given to cherry blossom viewing parties that are held every spring in Japan. Hundreds of people will flock to the popular areas that are filled with these beautiful trees and enjoy drinking, picnics, and good times with friends, co-workers, or family. Popular areas, such as Kyoto, will be very busy around this time, so be prepared for big crowds and long lines!
Wherever you are planning to hold your hanami party, you can bet that someone else has had the same idea. Usually – a lot of people! The Japanese really love to hold hanami parties, so every day there will be people sat under every cherry blossom tree you could find. So, you need to plan ahead and arrive early! Many companies often send one of the junior staff to reserve a spot all day for them, with everyone else only arriving in the evening! Now, you don’t need to wait all day, but people have been known to sleep overnight on their spot so they can reserve the best space. If there is only a few of you, then it will be much easier to squeeze into an empty space, but if you’re in a big party, you might need to do some strategic planning to snag a good spot.
For some of you, sitting on the grass is not a problem, but in Japan, everyone will bring sheets to sit on. You can buy these sheets everywhere, especially during spring and summer, for very little money. In some of the bigger parks, they may even provide you with mats to lay out for your seating areas. For example, in Maruyama Park in Kyoto – a very popular hanami location, they have a stand full of tatami mats that anyone can use to make the floor a little more comfy!
Before you start your party, you should definitely stock up on some hanami essentials. The easiest, and cheapest, way to do this, is to visit the nearest convenience store! Around sakura season, they have lots of sakura-themed goods you can buy, from special edition packing to spring related flavors etc. If you are somewhere that also sells street food, then definitely grab some tasty treats there, but for drinks, the convenience store’s drinks are usually much cheaper!
Hanami parties are a great way to relax and have fun with your friends during the most popular season in Japan! Just try and squeeze in as many parties as you can, as the cherry blossoms soon fall. Be sure to do a google search for the cherry blossom season for the area you’re in so you can spend as long as possible enjoying these beautiful flowers.