If you’ve ever been to Japan during it’s early Spring season, then it’s safe to assume that you made the trip to get a glimpse of the bewitching cherry blossoms – or Sakura, as it’s known in Japanese. The sakura season is one of the most captivating things about Japan, however, as sakura season only goes for two weeks (usually from the end of March to late April), not everyone is fortunate to get the full experience. Most people will try to perfectly time their trip to Japan to make that two-week window, but unfortunately, because of the randomness of when they bloom, not everyone gets a chance to see the sakura at their peak.
Foreigners are always fascinated by sakura, but don’t think that the obsession is limited to outsiders, it’s just as much of an obsession for Japanese people too. The Japanese word, Hanami, is actually the term used to describe the act of viewing and enjoying sakura. Basically, if you’re having a picnic in the park under sakura trees, or just admiring the beauty of sakura during an evening stroll, then you’re doing hanami.
Hanami, for centuries, has been a traditional Japanese custom—first starting in the Nara period (710–794). Surprisingly. at that time, it wasn’t sakura that was being sought after; instead, it was the also famous, ume (plum) flower. Similar to how sakura is enjoyed now, people would gather together to embrace ume flower trees, and hunt down the best blossoming spots. It wasn’t until the Heian period (794–1185) that cherry-blossoms began to rise in popularity. The short window to capture the beauty of sakura made it highly sought after, so people would dedicate their time instead to enjoy the sakura with friends.
What do people do exactly for Hanami?
Although, technically, as long as you’re enjoying the sight of sakura, you’re fulfilling the act of hanami; it’s more common for people to gather in groups of either family or friends, sit under sakura trees, and enjoy the transient sights together.
In popular sakura sightseeing areas, you’ll find tarps laid across everywhere, with people joyfully sitting on them. People do a range of typical activities that you would do at a park – from picture taking to eating delicious food, playing games, and some even take a nap. One of the most important things is to drink alcohol. You’ll find many special p
Hanami is mainly done during the day, but for true enthusiasts, it can last up until sunset. There’s even have a term for hanami in the early evenings, which is – Yozakura. Some sakura trees are decorated with paper lanterns so that people can see the sakura during yozakura. The illuminated trees create an ambient feeling, and add that extra
Top Spots for Hanami
You can find sakura trees almost anywhere in Japan, but there’s some incredibly beautiful spots renowned for hanami. We’ve collated the best of the best area’s in Japan for you:
- Goryokaku Park (Hokkaido)
This park is famous for the Battle of Hokaido, and boast over 1600 sakura trees.
2.Hirosaki Park (Aomori)
The exact spot in the above photo above is a famous position for sakura picture taking. The mix of Sakura trees, the traditional bridge, and the stunning Hirosaki Castle in the background, make for a stunning background.
- Chidori-ga-fuchi Park (Tokyo)
Chidori-ga-fuchi Park in Tokyo is famous for Yozakura – the act of viewing sakura in the evening. There is a 700 meters long pedestrian path filled with over 260 sakura trees. The trees are illuminated in the evening during the cherry blossom season. It’s most beautiful during the evening, but for those who want to view it during the day, you get the opportunity to rent a boat and row through the small river as you take in the beautiful view.