Closely second to New Years, the hanami season is the 2nd most important time in the Japanese calendar. Everyone in Japan absolutely loves and cherishes hanami season and here's why.
First things first, a little language lesson: Hana = flower; Mi = to look
So as the weather gets warmer over March, people start to get excited about the months ahead, making plans with family, friends, colleagues, more friends, all to spend under the pretty pink cherry blossom trees, constantly confetti'd with beautiful petals.
I have to say, it was my favourite time of the year when I was living in Japan. I was working in the in-house legal team of a large Japanese corporation and the hours were gruelling however, as soon as the hanami season hit, I felt the strict deadlines loosened just that little bit as colleagues finally talked about something other than work and invited me to gatherings on weekends to sit under these stunning trees.
What's funny is that much like a pub crawl, people take hanami very seriously, with some mapping out which parks, which cherry blossom tree variety they're going to sit under and when. Due to Tokyo being very densely populated, many parks at peak time were completely jammed packed with picnics. You'd be sat right next to another picnic! Knowing this, many expert hanami picnic-ers would nominate one person to go and reserve the spot for prime hanami enjoyment. When I went with colleagues, as you'd expect the hierarchy played a massive role and this was the most junior person's role.
Do you sometimes do this thing I do, where you imagine you're in a bubble and no one can see you and you just sit and observe your surroundings? Well I did this a lot during hanami picnics and just people-watch. It's absolutely breathtaking. There's so much laughter, soooooo many different picnic memories being made between all different ages, gatherings, occasions; so much beer, shochu and sake too... there's nothing so beautiful when everyone is constantly being showered with petals!
When the weather is great in the UK, hanami is wonderful here too! I like going to Battersea park where the cherry blossoms are beautiful. We had a picnic last year and made a crab mayo roll!
If you're like me, you have tons of cherry blossom photos on your phone!
Thanks so much for reading, I hope you've found learning about hanami season interesting. If you enjoy reading about Japanese content like this, you will love what we post on our newsletter, so please subscribe!