Japanese Language Blog

Enjoying the beauty of cherry blossoms. Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Culture

Have you heard of “Ohanami (お花見)” ? Hanami, (meaning “flower viewing” in English) is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of cherry blossoms. You can enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms starting the end of March through May in Japan. It is not uncommon over here in the U.S. to see cherry blossoms beautifully blooming around this time of the year. Perhaps you might see them in your city as well.

Hanami is an annual event for people to gather under the cherry blossom trees and to simply have a picnic with your family and friends. It is also a time to enjoy the nice warmer spring weather as well. People in Japan typically enjoy Hanami during the day, but it is also popular to go to Hanami during the night as well. The night version of Hanami is called “Yozakura(夜桜)”. Where “Yo (よ)” means night and “Sakura(さくら)” means cherry blossoms. So, it literally means “Cherry Blossoms at Night”.

Hanami tradition could go back to many centuries. It is said that Hanami’s roots go back to  700’s, during the Nara Period.  This is when people started to appreciate the beauty of cherry blossoms.  The interesting part was that people not only enjoyed the beauty of the cherry blossoms but also believed that the “harvest spirits” were inside the cherry blossom trees. Cherry blossoms were treated as spiritual tree back then. During the next period, called Heian Period, Emperor Saga often did the Hanami parties under the cherry blossoms with Sake and feasts. It is believed that this is the official start of Hanami’s.

In Japan, you can enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms everywhere; however, there are 5 main popular cherry blossom sites. Theses cherry blossoms are amazing, often times, trees are huge, giving you the magnificent view of the blooming flower.

Enjoy the following video that covers the 5 best Hanami sites in Japan.

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About the Author: keiko

Born and raised in Japan. She currently lives in U.S. with her husband and two kids.