Hanami is one of Japan’s most ancient festivals with origins in the eighth century. It literally means ‘flower viewing’, but in practice it usually refers to picnicking in the vicinity of cherry blossoms. Blossoms signifies the start of spring, and is much anticipated in Japan, with plans made for parties welcoming their arrival. At the early celebrations, centuries ago, aristocrats wrote and recited poems about the blossoms, and took pleasure in their beauty. Now, most people organize a picnic with their friends or colleagues in parks, on riverbanks, and anywhere else where cherry blossoms are.
Hanami in Japan
The revelry often continues until late at night. People can even can buy ready-made hanami lunchboxes. Sometimes the vegetables are cut into flower shapes, or seasonal ingredients are used to create the ‘taste of spring’. But today not many write or recite poetry at hanami parties anymore. A rice cake called ‘sakura mochi’ with a very unique flavor is offered at hanami parties. Many people make a special trip to a famous viewing area, or to attend an organized hanami festival. Newspapers and the TV report on the progress of the blossoms predicting when they will come out in each part of the country. An important economic aspect is linked to this tradition: last year, the season attracted nearly five million people and boosted the Japanese economy by about $2.7 billion.