There is a great reason for spring in Japan being a highly anticipated season that draws huge crowds of locals and foreign visitors: cherry blossom! Nobody can resist the beautiful sight of cherry blossoms, known as “sakura (桜)” in Japanese, while eating dango (団子) or sweet Japanese rice dumplings. It is typical during the sakura blooming period that people hold picnics in parks to enjoy the view of sakura flowers with their family and friends. Of course, for some people, this is also the perfect time to get wasted!
Cherry blossom viewing is also known as “hanami (花見)” in Japan. While almost everyone would like to enjoy at least one hanami when they’re in Japan for spring, it is sometimes not practical to go out and see the flowers in person. In this case, people resort to “air hanami” and here are five reasons why.
But first, what does “air hanami” mean? It basically means indoor hanami involving the use of fake sakura flowers. How fun can that be? Well, it is definitely better than having no sakura flowers at all during the spring season, and thus, fake flowers can still get you in the mood for the season of nature and beauty.
You may be asking, why is it so difficult to go out and view real sakura flowers in nature? No doubt, the view of natural flowers is more beautiful than fake ones, but there are several reasons why people choose to stay indoors during the spring season in Japan.
1. The crowds
Some people just do not like crowds. Hanami spots, especially the popular ones, can get very crowded which results in an unenjoyable experience. For the same reason, not all of us go to celebrate countdowns outdoors as the crowds can take away the magic. The huge crowds can also cause difficulty finding friends among the swarms of unfamiliar faces.
2. No parking spaces
Carparks also fill up quickly so if you’re traveling by car, you need to arrive very early to ensure yourself a parking spot.
3. Queuing for the bathroom
Due to the huge crowds, you would need to take a long queue too when going to the public toilet. This is more so for female toilets.
4. Hanami preparation and cleaning up
Outdoor hanami picnics can also be troublesome due to the amount of planning that goes into it. This includes preparation of food and inviting friends. And after all the partying, you have to clean up all the mess and take it back to your house.
5. Bad weather and allergies
The weather outside can be unpredictable with rain or cold temperatures. Having an air hanami means that there’s no need to worry about the weather. Allergies are also a worry at this time of year. For anyone with hay fever, there is a lot of pollen in Japan during spring which can ruin your hanami experience if you’re outdoors.
As I previously stated, hanami is also a time when a lot of people like to enjoy a few drinks in the park. Thus, the sale of beers and other alcoholic beverages rise substantially during the spring season.
Kirin is a Japanese brewing company who, since the recent trend of air hanami, has started a marketing campaign called “Air Hanami Matsuri.” For the campaign, Kirin sells various items such as beers and party goods with a sakura theme. The products can be purchased on Amazon Japan (Japanese only).
Kirin Air Hanami Matsuri Website *Japanese only
If you have been planning a spring trip to Japan, you probably already know that the sakura blooming period is the peak traveling period so flight tickets are expensive. Even if you have purchased tickets based on the expected period of sakura bloom, sometimes the sakura blooming days can be a little unpredictable and you end up being in Japan when the sakura flowers have not fully blossomed yet. On the flip side, you may also be a little too late and you end up being in Japan when the flowers have started to wither. Therefore, as a tourist, there’s still the option to indulge in air hanami rather than feeling like you’ve totally missed out on sakura season.