Sakura is the cherry blossom that marks the arrival of spring in the archipelago of Japan and Hanami is the Japanese custom of their contemplation.
In the land of cherry blossoms
"Hanami" means cherry blossom viewing in Japan. Japan people meet for a a picnic party to enjoy cherry blossoms with friends, family or colleagues under the cherry tree to share food and drinks and have fun. Not only in Japan but in many countries you can enjoy spring in the Japanese way.
Hanami, a social ceremonial
"Hanami" is the season of cherry blossoms, a unique phenomenon highly anticipated by the Japanese and also very popular with tourists. The cherry blossoms create beautiful landscapes in the parks that are experiencing, at this time of the year, a rush of affluence.
The "hanami" (literally looking at the flowers) gives rise to large festive gatherings. The Japanese gather to picnic, walk, talk, drink (mainly Sake) and sing under these beautiful and colorful natural arches of flowers . Some places offer a night lighting of trees as soon as night falls, which take then a fairy dimension.
The custom of hanami is centuries old. Cherry blossom coincided with the beginning of the rice planting season. The peasants used to deposit offerings to the gods at the foot of cherry blossoms. Then they drank sake, praying that the harvest would be plentiful.
Even today, the hanami remains a symbol of renewal and marks in Japan the beginning of the school year. And if a petal falls on you, it's a sign of luck!
The symbol of time passing
The sakura has long been a symbol of beauty in Japan, a metaphor for life, beautiful but ephemeral. The five-petalled cherry blossom is a very strong symbol in Japan. It has inspired many works of art to represent and emphasize the ephemeral nature of beauty.
The Japanese are particularly attached to this tradition. Each year, "making hanami", means to celebrate the arrival of the spring, the passage of the seasons, and especially to strengthen their feeling of belonging to their country, even to their region.
A long season, from Okinawa to Hokkaido
The hanami is present throughout the Japanese archipelago, at different times of the year, over a period that extends from February to May. The phenomenon lasts about a week and its popularity reflects the attachment of the Japanese people to nature. Each city has a park where you can walk under the cherry blossoms and admire them.
The sakura blooming "sakura zensen" is difficult to predict because of its dependency on the weather conditions. Dates change every year. Thanks to the Japan Meteorological Association, the Japanese can follow the forehead of the blooming cherry blossoms. They hatch first in late January in the Okinawa archipelago in southern Japan, and last in Hokkaido in the north.
In the Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka regions, cherry blossoms generally occur in early April, but these dates can vary from one to two weeks depending on the year.
Cherry Blossom Forecast 2020 in Japan