Japan has a specific cultural tradition known as “Hanami” or “Cherry Blossom Viewing”, generally done in the cherry blossom season or the season when the Sakura (cherry blossom) trees are in full bloom. The Hanami festival is not only for flower viewing, but it also depicts the start of spring. At this time, the people have a picnic with their family and friends under the Sakura trees, just having a relaxing time.
So next time you are in Japan, here are our few tips for enjoying cherry blossom season and having a fantastic time!
What To Bring For Hanami
Hanami is very similar to a general picnic in a park, and all the items listed are readily available in stores in Japan during this season. Although it can be enjoyed alone, it is best enjoyed with a group of people.
- Picnic sheet – Picnic sheets come in various sizes, so pick the one depending on the size of your group.
- Food and drinks – As with any picnic, it is best enjoyed with people and food. Food items such as Dango, Milk pudding, Onirigi, Mochi, and Sushi as the most common options.
- Bento boxes – These food items can be brought in Bento boxes to not make any waste with paper plates and cups.
- Garbage bags – The Hanami area tends to be crowded, so looking for garbage cans can be a little tricky. Bring garbage bags with you so you can take your waste materials with you.
- Sweater, blanket, and heat packs – Depending on the area, some Hanami festivals happen during the cold season. In that case, bring some extra layers of clothing and heat packs.
Japan is inherently an immaculate and respectful country. So, there are few basic etiquettes that need to be followed:
- Before leaving, clean up after yourself. Picnics can be messy at times, and since it’s a public place, clean up everything before leaving.
- Do not be too disruptive. Enjoy the lively mood peacefully, and don’t make too much noise to disturb the people sitting around you.
- Enjoy the Hanami in a respectful manner. Things like not plucking the branches of the trees or disturbing their roots, need to be followed. Remember to respect their nature.
Top Hanami Spots
Cherry blossoms bloom for a relatively short amount of time. There are dedicated news channels from which people refer to know which place blossoms at which dates. Take that into account before planning your Hanami. These places are located in central Tokyo.
- Shinjuku Gyoen – Blooms in early April. Features more than one thousand Sakura trees over different varieties, including both early and late-blooming flowers.
- Ueno Park – Here, the cherry blossoms bloom in early April and a couple of days before other spots in the city. It is also one of the most crowded places for Hanami and features around 1000 trees.
- Chidorigafuchi – Blooms in early April. Hundreds of Sakura trees decorate the moats of the former Edo castle. Boats are available for rent, but a picnic is not allowed. These trees are also lit up in the evening.
- Koishikawa Korakuen – Blooms in early April, and here a few dozen are Weeping cherry trees. These Weeping cherry trees typically reach full bloom a few days before other trees.
- Koishikawa Botanical Garden – It is a spacious park with different varieties and a Japanese landscape garden. Here the cherry blossom blooms in early April. As it requires an admission fee and is a study area, it is relatively calm.
- Confirm your Hanami spot before you go. Although a majority of them allow few don’t, such as, as listed above, Chidorigafuchi. So, confirm your location before you go.
- Choose a meeting spot beforehand. Since Hanami locations tend to be crowded, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. It’s best to decide on a particular spot in case this happens.
- Arrive early. As mentioned before, Hanami locations tend to be crowded, so arrive early, it will be easier to find a spot to sit, and you won’t have to look around for hours. Also, don’t take up an unreasonable amount of space.
- Bathroom breaks can be a bit of a problem due to crowding. So it is best advised to keep your drinking in check.
There you have it! Keep these listed tips in your mind before planning for your Hanami, and it will go off without a hitch and remember just to have a relaxing time and enjoy!