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Japan is dotted with many of its national flowers, or sakura (cherry blossoms).

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The sakura begin to blossom every year when the warmth of spring slowly takes over. In April, the sakura will bloom in full splendour, and around that time the Japanese people will certainly organise 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 the hanami event originated from the Nara Period and was a custom carried out by the aristocrats.

When you participate in a hanami, you can expect to see and be around people feasting with a lot of good food and drinks, or just calmly enjoying the scenery with bentos. People also nap or chat under the flowering trees. All this, while enjoying the beauty of the blossoms. 

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Some would enjoy it indoors from fancy Japanese restaurants or establishments that allow their patrons to take in the beautiful scenery of the blossoms while partaking in a delicious meal.  

In recent years, the sakura trees are adorned with lights that light up at night. The romantic atmosphere is ideal for couples to enjoy the blossoms after work or for those that are unable to take time off during the day to participate in any hanami. This night viewing event is getting more and more popular throughout the country. 

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The ambience created at night by these “Night Sakura” is unique and different from what can be experienced during the day. Hence, no wonder these night events are becoming more popular. 

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Forecasts on when the sakura will bloom will always make headlines. The Japanese people will eagerly wait for the flowers’ full bloom and plan excitedly when to go for hanami.

Modern Japan may have adopted a lot of aspects of foreign cultures, but the tradition that revolves around sakura, like the hanami, will always be an important traditional event that is integral to the Japanese culture as long as the sakura trees continue to flourish in the country.  

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