What Is Japan’s Hanami Festival, The Age-Old Celebration Of Flowers, Spring & Cherry Blossoms?

Hanami has been part of Japanese custom for millennia

by Tejashee Kashyap
What Is Japan’s Hanami Festival, The Age-Old Celebration Of Flowers, Spring & Cherry Blossoms?

In Japan, springtime heralds a spectacle of unparalleled beauty and cultural significance, the Hanami Festival.  Renowned worldwide for its breathtaking display of cherry blossoms, or sakura, Japan’s Hanami Festival transcends mere admiration of nature’s splendor.

What Is Japan’s Hanami Festival?

The Hanami Festival, which is most commonly associated with cherry blossoms, celebrates the traditional Japanese ritual of appreciating flowers. Cherry blossoms (sakura) and plum trees (ume) bloom throughout the country from the end of March to the beginning of May. This is the best time to celebrate the Hanami celebration, which coincides with the flowering forecast. The Hanami event is only scheduled after the bloom forecast has been announced.

Hanami has been part of Japanese custom for millennia, dating back to the Nara Period (710-794). This time-honoured practice represents the arrival of spring and the appreciation and respect for natural beauty. A profound understanding and belief that deities, such as the god of the mountain and the god of the rice fields, were housed in sakura trees existed millennia ago. In the past, farmers would offer prayers to cherry blossoms in hopes of increasing their crops. Over time, the idea shifted and became more focused on the peaceful beauty of the sakura trees. Numerous poets and artists honoured the pink cherry blossoms in a range of artistic creations. The Sakura blossom symbolised this appreciation of nature and beauty, which is still respected today.

ALso Read: This Is Why Vidya Balan Loves Japan, A Country She Spent 2 Weeks In

How Japan Celebrates This Festival?

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, Hanami holds deep cultural significance for the Japanese people. Under the vividly pink cherry blossom trees, there are frequent outdoor gatherings where people celebrate with food and beverages. These evening events are called Yozakura, which translates to “night sakura,” and are renowned for their distinct beauty. Paper lanterns are a common addition to the evening festivities, casting a fresh light on and enhancing the beauty of the cherry blossoms.

Sake and traditional tea are two more classic Hanami celebration foods. Sweet dishes in particular that are in season go well with these drinks. People frequently use spring-like elements, such as flowering trees, to decorate. Tokyo’s Ueno Park and Yoyogi Park, Meguro River, and Chidori-ga-fuchi (Kudanshita) are a few locations where you can experience Hanami. Sakuranomiya is a well-liked option in Osaka. Arashiyama, Gion, Kinkaku-ji, and Kyoto are excellent locations for Hanami.

So, Have you seen this festival?

Cover image credits: Canva