Spring is a magical season in Japan, especially when cherry blossoms, locally known as "sakura," bloom in enormous quantities for a few weeks. The bloom travels all around the country, blanketing parks, streets, and rivers in a layer of pink beauty.
Cherry blossoms are more than just pink flowers that bloom in the spring. It is an essential part of Japanese culture.
Whether you're planning a vacation or are curious, here is a guide to the cherry blossom festival in Japan.
The Japanese have cherished the cherry blossom season
s for hundreds of years. Besides marking the
beginning of spring, cherry blossoms are also seen as a sign of hope, renewal,
and a symbolic reminder of life: something that's astonishingly beautiful
The ancient tradition of enjoying the beautiful blossoms of cherry trees is called Hanami, which translates to "flower viewing."
Hanami originated more than a thousand years ago. At first, these practices were limited to the Imperial Court, with lavish feasts followed by sake enjoyed by senior officials under the blossoming trees. But after that, it slowly emerged among the samurai society and the common people.
Although there is no fixed date, cherry blossom season can start as early as mid-January in Japan's southernmost islands, and as late as the end of May in the norther region of Hokkaido (one of Japan's four main islands).
In cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, the cherry blossom season usually begins in April. Once trees reach full bloom, known as "Mankai," there is just a week to experience this spectacle before the flowers fall off their branches.
To rejoice the arrival of spring and the beauty of nature, entire communities gather in parks and gardens for a lavish picnic. From morning to night, families, friends, and colleagues gather in small groups, share meals, drink sake and beer, and enjoy the surrounding beauty.
Shops in Japan will sell hanami-themed products; dyed pink rice balls, dyed pink sticky rice cakes covered in cherry leaves, and bento boxes with colorful spring-themed snacks. You, too, can go to a park, spread out your blanket, and join the crowd.
At night, trees are also fully decorated with paper lanterns to maintain the beauty of the flowers. Hanami at night is called Yozakura, which means "night sakura."
It is impossible to imagine springtime in Japan without these pink blooms coming to mind. If you can visit Japan during the cherry blossom season, it is an opportunity not to be missed.
If you're planning a trip around cherry blossom season in Japan, make your trip more exciting and fun by learning some language basics along the way. With Oku Sensei's Japanese, get an opportunity to learn the Japanese language more efficiently. Enroll today!