Do You Know These 5 Essential Japanese Vocabulary Items for Spring?

  • Spring is arguably the best season in Japan. The colder months fade away, millions of flowers and trees burst into bloom all over the country, and everyone has Golden Week and cherry blossom season to look forward to. After the blistering winds, snow, and post-holiday misery of the first few months of the year are over, spring is welcomed with enthusiasm.

    Spring is an excellent time to visit Japan (though it is recommended to avoid Golden Week due to inflated prices and more crowds), so if you’re planning on being in the Land of the Rising Sun during this pleasant time of year, be sure to memorize these five essential words all to do with spring.

    1. Sakura

    If you didn’t know already, this means “cherry blossom,” and is probably the most celebrated type of flower that blooms for just a few weeks between mid-March and early April. They say this is the time of year the gods come to Japan, and their very beautiful yet brief lifespan is a reflection of the fragility of our own lives.

    You will hear the word “sakura” a lot around this time as everyone will be looking forward to the festivities and limited edition products that come with this special season, from blossom-flavored pies to pink Starbucks lattes.

    2. Atatakai

    “Atatakai” which is often shortened to “attakai,” means “warm,” and you might hear it breathed with sighs of relief after winter disappears and the sun comes out. April, in particular, brings fantastic weather in mainland Japan, so be sure to enjoy the attakai breeze and sunshine while you are here.

    3. Hanami

    During cherry blossom season, you might see a lot of people sitting around on picnic chairs and sheets, eating and drinking under the sakura flowers. This fun pastime is called “hanami,” and is a combination of the words “hana,” meaning “flower,” and “miru,” which means “to see” or “to watch.”

    Hanami is a picnic among the cherry blossom trees; it is a great opportunity to spend time with those you care about, take photographs of the flowers, and, if you want to, get drunk.

    4. Kouen

    Since the weather finally starts to get warmer and many kinds of flowers are in bloom, you may find that a lot of people enjoy spending more time at their local “kouen,” which means “park.” Parks in Japan generally tend to be safer and cleaner than in other countries and spring is the perfect time to visit one, hang out with your friends, and spot some local fauna.

    5. Haru

    Finally, “haru” means “spring”! It is the season that many people look forward to and plan to enjoy as thoroughly as possible before summer arrives, bringing humidity, insects, and cherry blossom-free trees.

    With these five useful vocabulary items, you’ll be able to express yourself a little more relevantly when you visit Japan in spring. So how will you spend haru this year? Will you do hanami under the sakura if the weather is attakai enough?