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Hanami and Cherry Blossoms in Japan

Needless to say, Sakura (cherry blossoms) would be the biggest attraction during spring in Japan for many people.

The cherry blossoms usually start fully blooming in the southern part of Japan around the end of March and gradually move up to the northern part of Japan. The blooming time is only for a week or two. What makes cherry blossoms even more attractive is that they are so fragile, short-lived and scatter their petals just a few days after they flower.

Sakura (cherry blossoms) are closely tied to Japanese history, culture and identity. Originally used to divine the year’s harvest, sakura came to embody “wabi-sabi” philosophy and shinto ideals of impermanence, hope and renewal.

Spring is also the special season for many Japanese people. Being 1st of April is the beginning of financial year in Japan, our new chapter of life usually starts in April – new school, new semester, university entrance or very first full-time job after graduating from school. School graduations are in March and entrance ceremonies are in April, new friends at the new place, the beautiful cherry blossom has somehow always been in my childhood memories.

Each year when the spring season comes, Japanese people go outside and gather together to admire the beauty of the cherry blossoms.

Why not enjoy the sakura (cherry blossoms) in the Japanese way while you are in Japan?

What is Hanami ?

Hanami (花見), which lietrally means “flower viewing” in Japanese, is the traditional custom of enjoying and admiring the beauty of cherry blossoms.

People sit under cerry blossom trees in a park, gather in a group of family and friends, eat, drink and chat for hours.

Hanami is like a picnic or a party in the cherry blossom season, and some groups actually stay there all day into the night time.

Hanami at night is called Yozakura (夜桜). The illuminated sakura trees and falling petals create the most fantastic atmosphere.

night view

How to enjoy Hanami?

There are many sites throughout the country famous for their spectacular blossoms, such as parks, mountains, sakura-lined streets, temples and shrines. You can enjoy Hanami under the sakura trees at any parks. Popular sites often become very crowded with lots of people so you need to go early and secure your spot. Some places have yatai (mobile food stalls) where you can buy street food and drinks.

Why not stop for a while, admire the beauty of cherry blossoms, relax and have your obento and drink under the cherry blossoms?

If you like to know when is the best time to see cherry blossoms to plan your trip, you might find the Sakura forecast is very useful! Every year, Japan Meteorological Corporation release its forecast of cherry blossoms flowering in each area. Remember though, even in the same city the peak blossom time may vary based on the species of cherry trees in the park, so use expert knowledge to be at the right place at the right time.

What to bring to Hanami?

  • Picnic sheet – Bring your own picnic sheet. You can sit down, lie down and relax under the sakura tree. 
  • Rubbish bags – You will need to take your rubbish with you when you leave the site. Most of Hanami sites do not have rubbish bins in place.  
  • Wet wipes/ hand sanitiser – Everyone probably will have them in this COVID situation today, but bear in mind sometime public water access is hard to find. 
  • Obento – You can find gorgeous and beautiful obento boxes which are specifically made for Hanami at department stores or supermarkets. There are many in varieties from Japanese style obento to sandwiches or a mixed-platters.
  • Snacks & Drinks – Bring enough snacks and drinks to treat everyone! You will find lots of items (such as cans of beer, bottles of tea, or boxes of chocolate) with pretty pink sakura design. They are only available for the short cherry blossoms season. 
  • Sakura mochi – Special Japanese sweets for the season! It is a pink rice cake filled with sweet red bean paste and wrapped in a salt-preserved cherry blossom leaf.
  • Cash – Some places have yatai (small food stalls), and they usually accept cash only. 

We are offering a wide range of Cherry Blossom Tours of Japan. Each of our spring tours has been specifically designed to show you the best of Japan during Japan’s famous cherry blossom season. On each trip the settings are different to take advantage of the season as it rolls by each year. We are also happy to arrange customised Private Tours specifically for you.

Choose springtime in Japan with Cherry Blossom Tours of Journey to the East to take you to the magnificent Japanese cherry blossoms at just the right time, and you know it is going to be a holiday of a lifetime.

We look forward to showing you beautiful Japan as soon as possible!