“Hanami,” from what I’ve read so far, is the pastime for watching blossoms of the season. However, over the years, “hanami” began to refer to “cherry blossoms viewing party”.
I became more interested when I read an article from Japan times by Michael Hoffman. He mentioned that during the Nara period, due to China’s influence, Ume(Plum) blossoms were more popular. It was not called “hanami” at that time, more like “umemi”, but I can’t cite any reference for that term except wikipedia and Japan Today.
I featured Osaka Castle’s Plum Garden on my previous blog, feel free to check it. Some say, plum blossom viewing is not popular because it is still cold but some prefer the ume season due to its peacefulness. The plum garden was indeed peaceful and cleaner compared to well known parks during Sakura blossoms.
There’s something coy about Sakura blossoms, like how difficult it is to predict the time they all decide to bloom. On this site it was forecasted that it will start blooming on March 21. However, we started seeing a couple of cherry trees blooming already at the end of February, like these trees beside the Tokyo Skytree.
But our town only started turning pink in the middle of the first week of April. In fact, today might be a good day to catch the falling petals of the trees.
Last Sunday, we went to Ueno park to view the sakura trees there but I was a little disappointed because it was crowded and the trees were not yet in full bloom (Some were in full bloom but they’re all crowded). Nevertheless, we still managed to get good pictures.
I didn’t read anything about the Hanami tradition before our visit there. That’s why I felt a little disappointed but after some reading, it all made sense to me… I should not go to well known parks for a peaceful stroll along sakura trees.
Which reminds me, I once heard a foreign tourist talk about how overrated sakura season was. I guess if a tourist go to a crowded park with half bloom sakura trees and did not bother to know its history, I can understand their disappointment but the Sakura blossom have so much history and deeper significance in Japan to be called “overrated”.
See for yourself, try reading books about Sakura symbolism and its history or just try googling. You’ll find it even more interesting if you google the darker side of Sakura.
Despite that, the feeling of having a beautiful life and how short it is to take it for granted, resonates deeply after watching the Sakura trees for a whole week. I can’t get enough of it, so whenever the weather’s fine, we would go out for a stroll or drive around to see if they’ve reached their peak. Which brought us to Mizumoto park, a park my husband calls “in the middle of nowhere.” Lol, we just don’t know how to get there except by car but I provided a link above for details. Anyway, it’s a HUGE park! We did not see the whole park but stayed along the cherry trees by the road. Hence, the wacky photoshoot below.
Ooh! I almost forgot to mention why I called this the Literal Hanami. Here’s a video I made during our Sakura roadtrip, feast your eyes on more PINK!
The roads we drove thru were the Sakura Dori in Oyata Adachi and the Road along Mizumoto Park in Katsushika.
I hope you enjoyed this! I’ll have another blog next week dedicated for spring!