Hanami (Hana meaning flower and mi meaning to look) or more well known as the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan, takes place annually for 4 weeks between March – May. Each year the Sakura (Cherry Blossom) is celebrated with the gathering of friends and family. The time is treasured and remembered, that as like the fleeting two weeks from the first flowering of Sakura till the final petal falls, life is short and to be celebrated.
Celebrating the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan
Each year the blossom forecast sakurazensen is recorded and watched diligently, with particular attention to the weather for when the first Sakura will flower. Announcement’s and updates are given regularly, the particular dates cannot be confirmed as rain and frost play a huge part and can also shorten the Sakura flowering period.
History of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan
Each year the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan commemorates the friendship between the United States and Japan since 1912 when 3,000 Cherry Blossom trees were presented by Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, D.C. The festival as seen today started in 1927 and now welcomes more than 1.5 million people. Although it is thought the custom started in the Nara period (710-794) when it was said to be celebrated by the elite of the Imperial Court then soon after the Samurai and later by everyone.
Prunus serrulata the Japanese Cherry Blossom is native to the Himalaya’s region and today the national flower of Japan. First classified by Carl Linnaeus in 1737 with over 200 cultivars in Japan alone.
The best places to witness the Sakura
Typically the blossom’s appear late March – early April in Kyoto and Tokyo. The Japanese Cherry Blossom Society has created the top 100 spots to enjoy the Sakura. The temporary electric paper lantern’s are hung to enjoy the evening viewing parties – yozakura.
The parties can be very lively with music, singing and sake (Japanese rice wine) into the small hours. Also during this time some private estates open there doors.
Forecast for 2016
This year’s warm weather has accelerated the growth process and it is forecasted that the blossoms will appear several days earlier than previous years.
It is a special time to visit Japan and witness Sakura situated in the many gardens, temples and castle’s.
With the ever increasing popularity of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan, please do book accommodation in advance to avoid disappointment.
As always we would love to hear from you, are you visiting Japan or perhaps celebrating in another part of the world? Please comment below and if you enjoyed reading don’t forget to share! Happy Travels:) x