Hanami is an age old
Japanese tradition of welcoming the spring season that dates back to centuries.
Also known as the Cherry(sakura) blossom festival, this annual celebration is
all about appreciating and celebrating the beauty of nature. Every year when
spring arrives, the country is abuzz with the talks of the blossoms blooming.
The cherry trees are a lovely soft pink colour that puts a feeling of
springtime and fills the people’s heart with simple happiness that produces a
dazzling phenomena together with the warm spring sunshine. People massively
gather under these sakura blossom trees for a lovely picnic that consists of
wonderful food, drinks, companionship, songs and collectively marveling the
beauty of the blossoms.
People also engage in
cultural activities such as composing ‘waka’ poems and painting while viewing
the blossoms. “I think Hanami is a wonderful festival where me and my
mates catch up for some really good food and drinks, and to just enjoy the
general feel-good vibrations going around!”, said Masarath, a mechanical
engineer living in Japan. The significance of the cherry blossom tree goes way
back into centuries. It represents the beauty and fragility of life. It is a
reminder that life is overwhelmingly beautiful but that it is also tragically
short. In popular culture, the significance and importance of this particular
festival are shown in a lot of cartoons and animated movies/tv shows. The
picnic is a first come, first serve basis. People in Japan wake up very early
just to seek out a picnic spot under a beautiful tree. Typically a picnic
basket at Hanami consists of Hanami Dango (sweet rice pudding), cherry blossom
cookies, sakura milk pudding, Chirashi sushi (veg), Inari sushi (tofu), Sushi
cake (shrimp, egg, and salmon)
The first springs of
the cherry blossom happen in the southern subtropical islands of Okinawa and
they bloom much later in the northern islands of Hokkaido. In most large cities
such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, the cherry blossom season usually takes place
around the end of March and the beginning of April.