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The Japanese art of Hanami



Springtime in Japan (if you can come at exactly the right time) is almost magical. For about 2 weeks each year (length depends on weather and area) the cherry blossoms are in bloom. If you are lucky enough to have nothing to do in late March to May you could theoretically chase the cherry blossoms up the expanse of Japan and see the whole country in bloom.


How do you Hanami?

1. Find a spot.
Basho-tori (lit. “taking a spot”) is a tradition in Japanese parks. Many times you will see companies taking up huge expanses of the park. They sent the employees on the low end of the rung to get that space. Sometimes people will spend an entire night making sure their space is secure the following day.

2. Set up the spread.
No hanami is complete without food and drinks. And the preferred hanami drink is undoubtedly beer. It is ok to drink from open containers of alcohol in parks in Japan. It probably isn’t ok to do that in trains, but it doesn’t stop people from doing it anyway. Japan is surprisingly liberal when it comes to alcohol.

3. Enjoy
An afternoon picnic under the cherry trees is enjoyable, but once the sun goes down the scenery changes. Depending on the time and area there may be a “cherry blossom festival,” if it goes into the night then there may be an accompanying “light-up.” You’ll be able to enjoy “yo-zakura” (lit. “night sakura”). You’d be surprised how beautiful sakura can look in the dark.

JNTO’s guide to different areas’ blooming seasons

Wikitravel 100 hanami spots in Japan

Where to see cherry blossoms (3 locations in the US) 

Sakura in Yoyogi Park

September 26  Category:Activities Tag:, ,

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