Hanami Guide - Enjoying flowers in Japan

Hanami is one of the most anticipated events in Japan, both by the Japanese and by tourists visiting the country in the spring. It consists of a festival of contemplation of flowers, mainly the cherry trees Sakura.

What is Hanami?

Hanami is a traditional Japanese tradition of enjoying the arrival of spring, especially watching cherry blossoms. It is also performed on plum and peach blossoms. Your sub-name is Kanou [観桜].

Hanami [花見] literally means “See Flowers” and is one of the simplest and most popular events that takes place in Japan every year. Hanami is a Japanese custom of appreciating and contemplating the beauty of flowers.

It happens when sakuras (cherry trees), one and and other trees begin to bloom and blossom. This event is held mainly in the spring between March and May with the blossoming of the cherry trees (sakura) which is one of the greatest symbols of Japan.

It is traditional not only to look at the flowers alone, but also to hold a banquet for a large number of people to enjoy lunch and sake under the cherry blossoms.

Hanami liquor, which is drunk while looking at flowers, is very fashionable. In Yin-Yodo, it is interpreted that the shade of cherry blossoms and the sun of banquets are combined. There are more than 300 species of cherry trees and thousands of other flowering trees to enjoy during the festival and other times of the year.

Hanami is not the only event to observe things. In Japan there is the word Tsukimi [月見] which literally means “moon observation”, are Japanese festivals in honor of the autumn moon.

Guide hanami - enjoying the flowers in japan

Where to enjoy Hanami?

Where can you enjoy flowers in Japan? Everywhere, in temples, parks, gardens, on the street and in other leisure areas, you will find beautiful sakuras blooming.

There are specific places where a large number of people gather to enjoy the flowers, having picnics under the trees. Castles and their surroundings are also great options for enjoying cherry blossoms. We have for example the Osaka castle, Himeji, Nijo-jo, Tsuruga, Hirosaki and Nagoya.

Some traders take this opportunity to set up their stalls, so the Japanese can take advantage and buy several street food, and some items that are only found at festivals.

No Japão o significado das flores difere do ocidente e tem até uma definição e línguagem própria. Recomendamos ler nosso artigo sobre Hanakotoba and the meaning of flowers.

Guide hanami - enjoying the flowers in japan

Regional differences in flowering

Cherry blossoms have different flowering times, depending on the type and location planted. The expected dates of flowering of the cherry blossom in each region are announced by each company of particular climate from February to April of each year.

The line connecting the regions planned to bloom on the same day is called the cherry blossom front. This front is based on specimens of Yoshino cherry trees (clones) in various places, so the flowering time varies according to the climate and topography.

However, some cherry trees such as Hokkaido Yoshino are used in southern Hokkaido and Sapporo, but in other areas where it does not grow, cherry trees are used Ezoyama is on Nemuro, where flowering is slow, Chishima cherry trees are used.

On the other hand, in Okinawa, where flowering is early, Kanhizakura is used as the sample tree. Due to differences in latitude, climate and variety, the flowering time in Japan is long, from January to May. For more information read our Sakura article.

Guide hanami - enjoying the flowers in japan

How to Enjoy Hanami?

Hanami can be considered a matsuri because it involves meeting people, a lot of food, drink and music. In certain places the party usually lasts until the evening, the hanami at night is called yozakura [夜桜] which means night sakura.

In many places such as Ueno Park, paper lanterns are raised for these yozakura. Some places like parks and temples fill up, and it is necessary to make a reservation well in advance.

One of the main foods consumed is classic obento and the great candy “Dango“. Even that proverb ”cupcakes instead of flowers” (花より団子 hana yori dango) makes fun of people who prefer to eat and drink instead of admiring sakura. It is even the name of a drama that I highly recommend.

Hanami is an event of paramount importance as it only lasts from one week to 10 days. Therefore, during Hanami, the Japanese arrive in the morning and usually stay all day to enjoy the beauty of the flowers. After such an event, the petals fall to the floor forming a large colored carpet.

Guide hanami - enjoying the flowers in japan

Hanami rules and etiquette

You should not just arrive at the place and do what you want, there are rules for contemplating cherry blossoms, rules that are also applied in the daily lives of each Japanese, so they are easy and simple for them to comply with.

Depending on the weather, you can buy some things to help warm your feet and other places like kairo. Don't forget to bring a picnic tarp that can be purchased at any hyakuen.

Don't pluck the flowers - Don't pull the flowers out of the trees looking like a child, this is a lack of respect and a great offense. If you want to catch a Sakura flower, pick the ones that fall off the floor.

Take off the shoes - Do not think about climbing on shoes on the picnic tarp, take socks to feel more comfortable, but nothing to get dirty.

Separate the Trash - As usual, you should not leave garbage in place. Separate, store and take the garbage to your home. The Japan don't usually have dumpsters scattered, then prepare a well insulated container.

No sound or noise - This festival is a time to enjoy and chat with friends, take off your headphones and don't even think about bringing speakers to annoy others, Japan is not Brazil.

Guide hanami - enjoying the flowers in japan

Story of Hanami

The practice of hanami it has been done for many centuries. They say that the custom started during the Nara period (710 - 794) with the flourishing of the umê that people admired most in the beginning. There came a time when Sakura gained more importance, even becoming a compliment for women.

In the Heian period (794 - 1185), sakura started to attract more attention than Ume (plum), starting with haikai poems. Over time, with some quotes in history, hanami has become one of the most important events of the year.

The first official event was held by Emperor Saga in 812, considered the first cherry blossom exhibition party. The event was held at Jishu Shrine, currently part of the Kiyomizu Temple

Guide hanami - enjoying the flowers in japan

The custom was originally limited to the elite of the Imperial Court, but it soon spread to samurai society and, in the Edo period, also to ordinary people. Tokugawa Yoshimune planted areas of cherry trees to encourage this. Under the sakura trees, people had lunch and drank sake at happy parties.

The hanami also had a religious symbolism. People believed in the existence of gods within the trees and made offerings at the root of Sakura's trees to help have good harvests.

Sakura is also considered a symbol of love. In the past, girls used to decorate their hair with a branch of sakura or decorate the backyard of their houses with flowers to show that they were looking for love. Sakura as well as roses have their romantic effects.

Currently the flower has gained a special place in Japanese culture, people from all over the world perform this event, even outside Japan. ikebana, kimono and origami.

Guide hanami - enjoying the flowers in japan

Hanami Videos

Really the flowers in Japan are beautiful and have great significance in your culture! To end the article we will leave some videos so that you can see the beauty of the flowers and a little of what happens during the hanami.

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