What Is Hanami? Annual Cherry Blossom Viewings in Japan

When the sakura blossom in full glory in spring, the Japanese people will always organise hanami to enjoy the flower's beauty. What exactly is this annual spring event? And what are "night hanami"? Read to find out.

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Sakura and Hanami 

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Japan is dotted with many of its national flowers, sakura (cherry blossoms). The sakura begin to blossom every year when the warmth of spring slowly takes over. In April, the sakura bloom in their full splendor, and around that time the Japanese people organize hanami events with great excitement. Hanami are cherry blossom-viewing parties where people often gather under the blossoms to eat and drink. 

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It is said that hanami events first originated in the Nara Period as a custom carried out by the aristocrats.

When you participate in a hanami party, you can expect to see people feasting with a lot of good food and drinks, or just calmly enjoying the scenery with bento (boxed lunches). People also nap or chat under the flowering trees. The background to all of this, of course, is enjoying the beauty of the blossoms. 

If you want to have a hanami part of your own, we have you covered with all you need to know! Check out our Comprehensive Guide to Hanami Etiquette so you can party in style like the locals. 

Some also enjoy cherry blossom viewings at upscale Japanese restaurants that offer the chance to take in the beautiful cherry blossom scenery while enjoying a delicious meal.  

Sakura at Night

In recent years, more and more sakura trees are adorned with lights that light up at night. The romantic atmosphere of these illuminations is ideal for enjoying blossoms in the evening, particularly for those unable to take time off during the day to participate in any hanami parties. These night viewing events are growing more and more popular throughout the country. 

The ambience created at night by these night sakura events is special and very different from the atmosphere during the day, so it's no wonder these night events are becoming more popular. If you want to experience it for yourself, our guide to the 20 Best Places to Enjoy Sakura Cherry Blossoms in Japan covers some beautiful spots for night cherry blossom viewing!

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Cherry Blossom Culture

Forecasts on when the sakura will bloom will always make headlines in Japan. The Japanese people eagerly wait for the flowers' full bloom as they plan their hanami gatherings.

Modern Japan may have adopted many elements aspects of foreign cultures, but as long as cherry blossoms flourish here traditions like hanami will always be an important part of traditional Japanese culture.

Experience Hanami For Yourself!

If you're planning a trip to Japan this spring, check out our 2020 Cherry Blossom Forecast! This article gives you all you need to know about the most beautiful cherry blossom spots in Japan and when they're forecasted to be in their peak in 2020.


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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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