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hanamint patio furniture, hanami
Hanami 花見, "flower viewing" is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers; flowers "hana" are in this case almost always referring to those of the cherry "sakura" or, less frequently, plum "ume" trees1 From the end of March to early May, cherry trees bloom all over Japan,2 and around the first of February on the island of Okinawa3 The blossom forecast 桜前線, sakura-zensen "cherry blossom front" is announced each year by the weather bureau, and is watched carefully by those planning hanami as the blossoms only last a week or two In modern-day Japan, hanami mostly consists of having an outdoor party beneath the sakura during daytime or at night In some contexts the Sino-Japanese term kan'ō 観桜, view-cherry is used instead, particularly for festivals Hanami at night is called yozakura 夜桜 "night sakura" In many places such as Ueno Park temporary paper lanterns are hung for the purpose of yozakura On the island of Okinawa, decorative electric lanterns are hung in the trees for evening enjoyment, such as on the trees ascending Mt Yae, near Motobu Town, or at the Nakijin Castle

A more ancient form of hanami also exists in Japan, which is enjoying the plum blossoms 梅 ume instead, which is narrowly referred to as umemi 梅見, plum-viewing This kind of hanami is popular among older people, because they are calmer than the sakura parties, which usually involve younger people and can sometimes be very crowded and noisy


  • 1 History
  • 2 Today
  • 3 Outside Japan
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


In these spring days,
when tranquil light encompasses
the four directions,
why do the blossoms scatter
with such uneasy hearts

Ki no Tomonori c 850 – c 9044

The practice of hanami is many centuries old The custom is said to have started during the Nara period 710–794 when it was ume blossoms that people admired in the beginning But by the Heian period 794–1185, sakura came to attract more attention and hanami was synonymous with sakura5 From then on, in both waka and haiku, "flowers" meant "sakura"67

Hanami was first used as a term analogous to cherry blossom viewing in the Heian era novel The Tale of Genji Although a wisteria viewing party was also described, the terms "hanami" and "flower party" were subsequently used only in reference to cherry blossom viewing

Sakura originally was used to divine that year's harvest as well as announce the rice-planting season People believed in kami inside the trees and made offerings Afterwards, they partook of the offering with sake

Emperor Saga of the Heian period adopted this practice, and held flower-viewing parties with sake and feasts underneath the blossoming boughs of sakura trees in the Imperial Court in Kyoto Poems would be written praising the delicate flowers, which were seen as a metaphor for life itself, luminous and beautiful yet fleeting and ephemeral This was said to be the origin of Hanami in Japan

The custom was originally limited to the elite of the Imperial Court, but soon spread to samurai society and, by the Edo period, to the common people as well Tokugawa Yoshimune planted areas of cherry blossom trees to encourage this Under the sakura trees, people had lunch and drank sake in cheerful feasts

The teasing proverb dumplings rather than flowers 花より団子, hana yori dango hints at the real priorities for most cherry blossom viewers, meaning that people are more interested in the food and drinks accompanying a hanami party than actually viewing the flowers themselves89

Dead bodies are buried under the cherry trees! is a popular saying about hanami, after the opening sentence of the 1925 short story "Under the Cherry Trees" by Motojirō Kajii

If there were no cherry blossoms in this world
How much more tranquil our hearts would be in spring

Ariwara no Narihira 825–88010


The Japanese people continue the tradition of hanami, gathering in great numbers wherever the flowering trees are found Thousands of people fill the parks to hold feasts under the flowering trees, and sometimes these parties go on until late at night In more than half of Japan, the cherry blossoming days come at the same time as the beginning of school and work after vacation, and so welcoming parties are often opened with hanami Usually, people go to the parks to keep the best places to celebrate hanami with friends, family, and company coworkers many hours or even days before In cities like Tokyo, it is also common to have celebrations under the sakura at night Hanami at night is called yozakura 夜桜, "night sakura" In many places such as Ueno Park, temporary paper lanterns are hung to have yozakura

The cherry blossom front is forecast each year, previously by the Japan Meteorological Agency and now by private agencies, and is watched with attention by those who plan to celebrate hanami because the blossoms last for very little time, usually no more than two weeks The first cherry blossoms happen in the subtropical southern islands of Okinawa, while on the northern island of Hokkaido, they bloom much later In most large cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the cherry blossom season normally takes place around the end of March and the beginning of April The television and newspapers closely follow this "cherry blossom front", as it slowly moves from South to North11

The hanami celebrations usually involve eating and drinking, and playing and listening to music Some special dishes are prepared and eaten at the occasion, like dango and bento, and sake is commonly drunk as part of the festivity

Outside Japanedit

"International Cherry Blossom Festival" in Macon, Georgia

Smaller hanami celebrations take place in Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines, and China12

In the United States, hanami has also become very popular In 1912, Japan gave 3,000 sakura trees as a gift to the United States to celebrate the nations' friendship These trees were planted in Washington, DC, and another 3,800 trees were donated in 196513 These sakura trees continue to be a popular tourist attraction, and every year, the "National Cherry Blossom Festival" takes place when they bloom in early spring14

In Macon, Georgia, another cherry blossom festival called the "International Cherry Blossom Festival" is celebrated every spring Macon is known as the "Cherry Blossom Capital of the World", because 300,000 sakura trees grow there15

In Brooklyn, New York, the "Annual Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival" takes place in May, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden16 This festivity has been celebrated since 1981, and is one of the Garden's most famous attractions Similar celebrations are also held in Philadelphia17 and other places through the United States

The largest collection of sakura in the United States is in Newark, New Jersey's Branch Brook Park, whose over 4,000 cherry trees attract 10,000 visitors a day during its annual Cherry Blossom Festival18

Hanami is also celebrated in several European countries For example, in Finland people gather to celebrate hanami in Helsinki at Roihuvuori Local Japanese people and companies have donated 200 cherry trees which are all planted in Kirsikkapuisto Those cherry trees usually bloom in mid-May

In Rome, in Italy, the hanami is celebrated in the park of the Eur, where are a lot of cherry trees were donated by Japan in 195919

See alsoedit

  • Momijigari, autumn leaf viewing
  • Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia
  • Tsukimi, moon viewing


  1. ^ Sosnoski, Daniel 1996 Introduction to Japanese culture Tuttle Publishing p 12 ISBN 0-8048-2056-2 
  2. ^ "Cherry blossom forecast" in Japanese Weather Map 
  3. ^ "Okinawa Cherry Festivals" 
  4. ^ Pictures of the heart: the hyakunin isshu in word and image, University of Hawaii Press, 1996, By Joshua S Mostow, page 105
  5. ^ Brooklyn Botanic Garden 2006 Mizue Sawano: The Art of the Cherry Tree Brooklyn Botanic Garden p 12 ISBN 1-889538-25-6 
  6. ^ Hoffman, Michael, "Sakura: Soul of Japan", "Petals 'perfect beyond belief' stir poetic", Japan Times, 25 March 2012, p 7
  7. ^ Inoki, Linda, "Tracing the trees in a long national love affair", The Japan Times, 25 March 2012, p 7
  8. ^ Buchanan, Daniel Crump 1973 Japanese Proverbs and Sayings University of Oklahoma Pres p 175 ISBN 0-8061-1082-1 
  9. ^ Trimnell, Edward 2004 Tigers, Devils, and Fools: A Guide to Japanese Proverbs Beechmont Crest Publishing p 41 ISBN 0-9748330-2-9 
  10. ^ "Cherry Blossom Viewing" Japan Mint Retrieved August 14, 2007 
  11. ^ Akasegawa, Genpei 2000 Sennin no sakura, zokujin no sakura: Nippon kaibo kiko in Japanese Osaka Seikei University, Kyoto, Japan: JTB Nihon Kotsu Kosha Shuppan Jigyokyoku ISBN 978-4-533-01983-8 As cherry blossom front comes up, the whole Japan goes into a war; we just can't sit home and let it go 
  12. ^ "Spring flower festival events" Seoul Metropolitan Government Retrieved August 18, 2007 
  13. ^ "HISTORY OF THE CHERRY TREES" National Park Service, United States 
  14. ^ "National Cherry Blossom Festiva" Official Site Retrieved August 16, 2007 
  15. ^ "International Cherry Blossom Festival Online" Official Site Retrieved August 16, 2007 
  16. ^ "Brooklyn Botanic Garden Celebrates Hanami" Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New York Archived from the original on August 8, 2007 Retrieved August 17, 2007 
  17. ^ "Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia" Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Retrieved August 17, 2007 
  18. ^ "Branch Brook Park FAQs" Retrieved March 26, 2016 
  19. ^ ""Passeggiata del Giappone"" 

External linksedit

  • Hanami in Philadelphia! Information on the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia
  • Hanami Documentary produced by Oregon Field Guide
  • Hanami in Japan! Information on Hanami and other annual events across Japan
  • Hanami Fun Facts — Japanzine:Field Guide to Japan by Zack Davisson
  • Hanami Manners 101 — Japanzine by Emily Millar
  • Kyotoview — Hanami In Kyoto
  • Blossoms in Japan Yearly map of blossoms in Japan in Japanese but the map should be understandable by all

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