As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, the sweet scent of flowers in bloom fill the air. To us this might be a passer-by event or maybe even an Instagram worthy photo, but for the residents of Japan, watching flowers bloom or hanami is one of the most exciting times of the year.
What is Hanami?
Known for its elegant petals and pinkish hue, the cherry blossom flower is the classic Japanese symbol of spring and the beauty of ephemeral nature. Lasting only about two weeks before they begin to fall, it’s no wonder why cherry blossoms are admired by visitor and citizen alike. Family and friends flock to the parks to hold parties, listen to music, or eat lunch, just to be surrounded by their beauty. As the spring wind blows, its tiny petals dance through the fresh air landing on the soft grass or following the rivers’ tide.
So not only are these flowers quite a visual spectacle, but they also bring communities together. But this “looking at blossoms” isn’t anything new; in fact it is one of the oldest Japanese traditions in existence. Hanami became a popular practice at the Imperial Palace of Emperor Saga of the Heian Period (794-1185). From this period onward, poems were published and paintings were displayed in honor of these marvelous buds.
Today, the countdown excitement is heightened by the televised Cherry Blossom Forecast which offers a day-by-day analysis of the coming of the blooms – known as the cherry blossom front – as they sweep towards the north. The arrival of these pink and white flowers ushers in a new season and fresh start.
If you are like most people and don’t have the time or money to visit Japan during these precious two weeks, don’t fret. Hanami celebrations and festivals happen just about everywhere, including Washington DC, Georgia, San Francisco, Taiwan, Rome, and New York.
But there is no better place to go than Japan. These stunning flowers can be admired all over the country including Tokyo, Kyoto, and Honshu Island. In fact, there are many tours available for those that wish to immerse themselves in the ultimate cherry blossom experience.
For a luxurious excursion, Japan Deluxe Tours offers a variety tours including a 12-night experience that takes you to nine cherry-blossom-filled locations from Tokyo to Osaka.
For a more relaxed and inexpensive option, My Tokyo Guide offers several day trips to incredible destinations.
Written by Savannah Chinelli, intern at Pilot HQ in London.