The annual blooming of cherry tree flowers, which are called “sakura” and accompanying nationwide conviviality of cherry blossom-viewing, which is known as hanami festival, can indeed be a suitable time to experience the beauty and culture in Japan. Stay tuned and see what you will enjoy when taking a trip to Japan this season!
Life in Tokyo has certainly been faster and flashier in the last few days of the year, but when March comes, everyone stops their busy daily activities to smell the flowers. Winter melts and spring covers all street, splashing the capital and the suburbs with brilliant colors and fragrant scents. Through the windows in springtime, you will see Japan’s parks, gardens, and canal-sides blush with fleeting blooms of pink and white which signal the coming of warmer, brand new days and beckoning people to get outside to shake off the winter doldrums. The most awaited festival is hanami. Hanami literally indicates “cherry blossom viewing”. It's said that the practice of hanami dates back to the Nara period in the 8th century when aristocrats enjoyed the beauty of cherry blossoms and wrote poems inspired by them.
Unlike the aristocrats of yesteryear, today Japanese people enjoy hanami in another way. People bring home-cooked meals, make barbecued foods, or buy take-out food in convenience stores (conbini), they drink and eat, all make the tradition of blossom-viewing more like a picnic under the trees in the fresh spring air. As thousands of people head for parks for picnics and parties in public spaces, both day and night. Many people will go stake out a spot early in the morning or even the day before. Especially, sake is indispensable drink in hanami festival. Some festival-goers may appreciate the sake and cuisines more than the flowers themselves. However, you should remember that gorgeous flowers are the main attraction at the cherry blossom festivals. Besides, there is a variety of performances presented during the festival like tea ceremony, folk songs, beauty pageants,… You might want to consider joining a tea ceremony which is held under the cherry trees; it can be quite the memorable experience in which you have a tranquil time and enjoy the flavor and fragrant of Japanese spring.
Cherry blossoms normally begin blooming early in January in Okinawa and bloom fully in late March to April in the Honshu region. In Hokkaido, cherry blossoms are usually in full bloom in May. Many tourists choose the same destinations, from the temples, pagodas in Kyoto to skyscrapers in Tokyo, to iconic mountains in Yoshino, in order to have Japan's top sakura viewing spots. Why don't you take a slightly different approach to see the fabulous beauty of Japan in other regions like Okinawa, Kanagawa, ancient Hirosima…? I promise that going out of the beaten path allows you to enjoy this breathtaking natural phenomenon without pushing your way through the crowds.
Sakura puts life, age, and time into perspective reminding us that nothing lasts forever. Let’s grasp your passport and go with Asia Senses now to design your trip to this beautiful country of sakura!