What is Hanami
Hanami, or blossom viewing indicates admiring flowers, cherry blossoms in particular, and having parties under the blossoms of flowering trees. Viewing cherry blossoms in bloom started to be called ‘Hanami’ in the Heian period (794 to 1185 AD). Until then, when it came to the term blossom it indicated plum or bushclover. Plum blossoms in bloom earlier than cherry blossoms, and many people enjoy its blossom viewing too. Today, however, it is called ‘umemi’ or viewing flowering plum trees.
Varities of cherry blossoms
There is a variety of flowering cherry trees, but most popular variety is called somei-yoshino. Hanami is a quite popular event in Japan so when the season arrives, the Japanese TV programs broadcast the news of when and where cherry trees are in bloom. The news broadcasts the information of somei-yoshino, but there are other varieties of cherry trees in Japan. ‘Yae-zakura,’ has dozens of petals layered, while ‘benishidare,’ a variety of weeping cherry trees has a distinctive drooping shape of branches.
Best season to go
Although it depends on areas and weather, somei-yoshino blooms from March to May in most part of Japan. Many people go for viewing when it is in full bloom, but some people favor flowers just in bud, or in half-bloom, or when flowers start to fall. Even the emergence of new leaves can be favored viewing time. So, you can enjoy the beauty of cherry blossoms even if you miss the time of full bloom.
Viewing places and points to note
Cherry trees are often planted as roadside trees or trees in the flood plain along the river as well as for parks and schools, close to their main gate. You can enjoy blossom viewing just walking around the city if you arrive at the blooming season.
In the best season, during weekends and holidays in particular, you may not have the place for your party to be seated if you start in the noon, as people go to the site in early morning to secure the place. There are also some places where having party is prohibited, so checking about the site you go for viewing in advance is recommended.
Hanami: Video Gallery
Hanami (Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima)