More Than Just Flower Viewing – The World of Hanami

Hello, this is Ayamegu(@ayakami_meguru).I will write about hanami this time.

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Hanami refers to the Japanese tradition of appreciating the transient beauty of flowers, especially cherry blossoms, during springtime. Hanami parties celebrate the fleeting cherry blossom season with food, drink, and merriment under the trees at parks and temples across Japan.

History and Origins of Hanami

Flower viewing has been a custom in Japan since ancient times. But organized cherry blossom parties emerged among the aristocracy during the Nara period (710–784). Imperial poetry gatherings celebrated the cherries’ beauty and impermanence.

As cherry trees spread throughout Japan, hanami became popular among commoners by the Edo period (1603–1867). Weeklong festivities occurred beneath blossoming trees. Restaurants and theaters thronged with flower-viewing crowds.

After the capital moved to Tokyo, hanami became associated with the trees along the Arakawa River. Novelist Jun’ichirō Tanizaki described extravagant parties of feasting, dancing, and debauchery under the blossoms along the riverbanks.

Postwar economic growth allowed most Japanese to travel for hanami. Television broadcasts of popular cherry blossom spots heightened festivity. Viewing the ephemeral blooms remains a major spring tradition.

Cherry blossom front forecasts now track the blooms moving from south to north across Japan. Major cities time hanami festivals for when the flowers reach full glory.

Pink petal carpets and cloud-like trees draw revelers outdoors to celebrate rebirth and new beginnings. Hanami’s beauty and revelry offers respite from mundane life.

Hanami Celebrations and Practices

Hanami features various traditions:

Outdoor Parties – Eating, drinking and merrymaking beneath the trees at parks, shrines, riversides or streets lined with cherries.

Flower-Viewing Barouche – Decorative carriages for flower viewing by nobility during the Edo Period.

Bento Meals – Special cherry blossom-themed boxed lunches are prepared and eaten at hanami gatherings.

Nighttime Illuminations – Candles or modern lights illuminate cherry trees at night for a magical ambiance.

Cherry Blossom Motifs – Floral imagery adorns everything from kimono to stationery to snacks at hanami events.

Photo Taking – Cherry trees in full bloom are beloved backdrops for photos and selfies.

Flower Forecasting – News outlets offer forecasts predicting when famous trees will start and peak blooming.

Flower Festivals – Major cities have festivals timed for peak bloom, with live music, markets and more.

Hanami is about both communing with nature and strengthening social bonds in a state of aesthetic appreciation. Friends, coworkers, students, and more gather together to create joyful memories under the blossoms.

Cultural Significance of Hanami

Hanami holds deep cultural meaning in Japan:

  • Ephemeral beauty evokes Buddhist themes of impermanence.
  • Starting school/work year with hanami rituals celebrates fresh starts.
  • Collective effervescence bonds society through shared joy.
  • Promotes health through outdoor activity amidst urban life.
  • Inspires arts like poetry, paintings, theater, music and film.
  • Vital source of tourism, fueling economic sectors.
  • Icons like Mount Fuji and cherry trees symbolize Japan.
  • International interest in hanami represents cultural exchange.
  • Reminder of seasonal cycles and humanity’s place in nature.

The fleeting blooms teach appreciation of beauty in the moment. Their transience calls to mind the passing of time itself.

Hanami’s ability to rouse collective joy and nostalgia remains culturally powerful. The custom persists while evolving – electric hanami cruises now recreate aristocratic viewing barges for example.

Climate change also necessitates adapting traditions as warmer weather alters flowering cycles. But flexibility demonstrates hanami’s resilience as a cultural custom.

As highly anticipated events marking spring’s arrival after dreary winters, hanami will likely continue inspiring positivity, camaraderie and artistic creativity for centuries more in Japan and beyond.

References: Japan National Tourism Organization –
Japan Meteorological Corporation –