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Everything You Should Know About Japan’s Cherry Blossom Festivals

Japan is popular all over the world because of its famous cherry blossom festival. In Japanese, it is known as Hanami. The cherry blossom festival is one of their most important customs, and during spring, all of Japan comes together to celebrate the festival.

But, by that, I do not mean that you will get to see flowers wherever you go, as the tree has its own time of bloom, depending upon the location. Spring is one of the best times to visit Japan, as you get to witness the Hanami tradition.

The Meaning of Hanami

Hanami is actually the ancient tradition of enjoying the blooming of plum blossoms (Ume) and cherry blossoms (Sakura) in some parks and all through the countryside of Japan. Sakura is the most popular form of Japanese cherry tree, and Japan has these trees everywhere. They are also known as Yedoensis or some Yoshino trees in the botanical circle.

The literal meaning of Hanami is “viewing flowers.” But now, it mostly indicates cherry blossom viewing. The history of Hanami dates back more than 1000 years. Back when aristocrats enjoyed the view of it and wrote poems about it.

How Do People Celebrate Cherry Blossoms In Japan?

Many people will stake out a spot early in the morning or even a day in advance.

Not like the aristocrats of yesteryear, the people in Japan today have made it a point to have fun during the cherry blossom season. They have fun and make almost a picnic out of it as they drink and eat under the trees.

People bring their home-cooked meals, set their barbeque grills, or get some take-out food and celebrate this beautiful occasion with their families and Pets. As no one wants to leave their beloved furry friend at home. Besides the numerous people gathered in these parks, it sometimes becomes a little competitive as everyone wants to get a good spot.

Since the festivities continue for the entire day, by the time people get through the evening, there is a good-natured revelry. It is always beneficial to know how you can say cheers in Japanese as well as learn some of their drinking etiquette. 

The elderly Japanese people often choose to pay a visit to the Japanese plum parks and watch the plum blossom, as these places are a lot less crowded and less rowdy.

The Symbolic Significance of Cherry Blossoms

As cherry blossoms are fleeting and beautiful, the blossoms generally last around two weeks, and they have become a symbol of beauty. The popular festival is known for bringing people who love nature, art, music together and hence making it a perfect memorable date.

You will get to witness cherry blossoms in art pieces in tattoos as well. The Japanese concept that says, “mono no aware,” which actually means “nothing lasts forever,” is often seen in tattoos.

When Festivals Take Place

In Okinawa, cherry blossoms start blooming in January. In the Honshu region, the cherry blossom peaks from late March to April. However, it is not at all easy to predict the dates of cherry blossoms in advance. So, if you want to visit Japan specifically for cherry blossoms, it could be a little difficult.

In Japan, the Japan Weather Association or JWA, Weathernews Inc., and Weather Map Co. announce the forecast of cherry blossoms every spring.

The cherry blossoms mostly appear in Kyoto and Tokyo somewhere between March and April. It mostly depends on the climate the country faces early in the year. The busiest time for traveling to Japan often coincides with the cherry blossom season. This is the time from the end of April and the beginning of May.

The cherry blossom festival is celebrated in different parts of the country. Most of it is celebrated from March to May. Even though there are regions that organize the festivities in January, February, and June, that depends on the location.

With the help of the blossom forecast, the festival dates are determined, which varies every year. This makes it difficult to plan a trip around this specific festival. But if you are planning to visit during the festival, then do your research and find out the dates.

Notable Festival Locations

Even though the festival is celebrated all through Japan, some of the festivals are celebrated on a larger scale. And some are more popular than others. If you are going to see the event for the first time, take your time and prepare for the trip.

  • Hirosaki Park
  • Meguro River
  • Ueno Park
  • Mitsuike Park
  • Shinjuku Gyo-en National Garden

The Main Attraction

The flowers are the main attractions during this cherry blossom festival. There are traditional performances performed at these festivals. You can also join a tea party under the cherry trees, as these picturesque moments will add to your memory.

It is fun to patronize the vendors who sell souvenirs and various food items, like specialty food and regional crafts from the region.

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