What is Hanami?

We’re not the only ones loving the Japanese Cherry Blossom at the moment. The act of viewing these flowers even has it’s own name; hanami and we’re explaining it all below. 

 

WHAT IS HANAMI

Technically speaking, hanami is the combination of two simple words: hana meaning flowers and mi meaning viewing. Over the years this expression has become synonymous with the annual flowering of the beautiful Japanese cherry blossom tree. According to Bokksu.com, cherry blossoms are a metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life and as the flowers start to bloom each spring, the people of Japan celebrate by throwing an array of parties.

 

Two geishas admiring the beauty of a cherry blossom tree

HISTORY OF HANAMI

Hanami is believed to be a centuries-old practice originating during the Nara period. At first it wasn’t the cherry blossom tree that was celebrated and admired but rather the Japanese Plum tree; ume. The first reference to hanami can be found in the Heian era novel; The Tale of Genji which refers  to cherry blossom viewing. This custom was originally limited to the high rollers of the imperial court, then made its way to the samurai society before coming a tradition of the common folks. Japanese farmers used the start of the sakura season to symbolise the beginning of harvest season. It’s believed that they held elaborate feasts under their boughs as an offering to the gods and to pray for a good harvest. Today, Hanami festivals are celebrated in more than 20 countries around the globe.

a beautiful tall cherry blossom tree glowing in the night sky

FLOWER VIEWING PARTIES

Cherry blossom flower viewing parties became popular during the ninth century reign of Emperor Saga and it stuck ever since. Today, hanami is celebrated every year  by thousands of people who flock to sit under the cherry blossom trees. The blooming of sakura usually coincides with the start of the school year and workers coming back from holidays; both milestones are marked with hanami. The parties often involve  elaborate feasts, live music and can often last well into the night.. Hanami at night is called yozakura (夜桜, “night sakura”).

Join us for the final week of sakura, Sakura. Book your table here

 

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