Cherry Blossom Viewing


●花見 Hanami;
O-hanami (an honorific expression for Hanami);
Cherry Blossom Viewing
●桜 (木)cherry tree;
(花)cherry blossom
●枝垂れ (木)weeping cherry tree
●八重桜 (木)double-flowered cherry tree;
(花)double cherry blossom
●山桜 (木)wild cherry tree;
(花)wild cherry blossom
●桜前線 cherry blossom front
●国花 national flower
●咲く (to) bloom;
(to) blossom;
(to) be in bloom
●満開である (to) be in full bloom
●散る (to) scatter;
(to) fall;
(to) be gone
●花弁 petal
●宴会 party;
●ライトアップする  (to) illuminate (ライトアップは和製英語)
●気象庁 the Meteorological Agency

Sakura, cherry blossoms, are the national flower of Japan, and since ancient times ‘a flower’ has sometimes meant just sakura.

In April, during the cherry blossom season, the Japanese school year and financial year start, so people feel fresh and hopeful to see the cherry blossoms.

The cherry blossoms don’t last long, and they all scatter with the wind and rain a few days after their best blossom.

Japanese people are attracted not only by their beauty but also their fragility.

The cherry blossoms were the symbol of Bushi-do (Japanese chivalry) and militarism in the past because of the way cherry blossoms readily scatter.

They have been the subject of literature, songs, and, of course, paintings throughout the history of Japan.

One of the oldest and most treasured events in Japan is Hanami, Cherry Blossom Viewing.

Aristocrats started Hanami in the Asuka era (about 1400 years ago).

These days, they have also become a reason to have an outdoor party.

These springtime flowers attract people from near and far to gather and celebrate the coming of spring.

Throughout Japan, the sites for spring cherry blossom viewing become very crowded.

Many companies even sponsor Hanami for their employees.

Young and old alike gather beneath the blossoms, singing, eating and drinking SAKE (Japanese wine made from fermented rice).

The old proverb, “Hana yori dango”, better to eat than to view the flowers, seems to still be true today.

Sometimes there are problems with people breaking the branches of cherry trees, getting drunk, littering, and so on.

Every spring neighbors around cherry blossom viewing spots are annoyed by the noise from cherry blossom viewers.

It is important to observe rules and manners for a pleasant Hanami.

Hanami is so popular everywhere, that local governments often illuminate the trees at night.

Hanami at night is called Yo-zakura (yo means ‘night’ and zakura means cherry blossoms, another name for sakura).

This enables more people to experience this natural wonder, and party well into the night.

The Japanese Meteorological Agency and private weather information services predict the blooming of cherry blossoms throughout the country, usually to the exact day.

This is accomplished by studying past blossoming patterns, and also by observing designated sites throughout Japan.

All regions, of course, bloom at different times for varying reasons such as weather patterns, amount of sunlight, elevation, etc.

The blooming periods vary greatly from one end of Japan to the other.

For example, in Okinawa, cherry blossoms begin to bloom usually around mid-January, and in Hokkaido, as late as the end of May.

Most newspapers publish blooming schedules for the various regions well in advance.

They also inform us about the different stages of blooming while the cherry blossom is showing.


(Please see ‘Our Cherry Blossom Viewing Experience’ , ‘The Atago Cherry Blossom Festival’ for further information.)


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