It’s that time of year again, when Japan explodes with vibrant pink cherry blossom for 2 short weeks while the whole country takes a well-earned time to slow down. The weather has been a little warmer than usual this year, so cherry blossoms are expected to start blooming towards the end of March and into early April for most of the country, with the exception of northern Hokkaido (May) and southern Kyushu / Okinawa (already finished).
The atmosphere at this time of year is infectious, with parks packed to the seams with groups of people enjoying barbecues, bento boxes and group activities amongst the beautiful backdrop of slowly falling pink petals.
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Japan during this season, make sure to get yourself to a hanami party in a nearby park during your time. Even during weekdays you’ll find many young and old folk enjoying the view together.
Some of the best places to view the blossoms are Ueno Park in Tokyo, Nagoya Castle in Nagoya, Daigo-ji Temple in Kyoto or pretty much anywhere near Nara. Although don’t let that put you off, you can see sights of incredible beauty almost anywhere in Japan at this time of year.
Here’s some useful vocabulary to learn if you are studying Japanese right now…
Hanami – はなみ（花見）
Literally “Flower Watching”, hanami means to go to the park and enjoy the cherry blossoms.
Hanamidango – はなみだんご（花見団子）
White rice mocha coloured pink, green and white. Usually eaten during cherry blossom season.
Yozakura – よざくら（夜桜）
Cherry blossom viewing at night. The trees are often lit up, which makes them even more majestic, especially over a river.
Mankai – まんかい（満開）
Full bloom (for the flowers). Usually a very short window of a few days.