How to “Hanami” – Cherry Blossom Viewing the Japanese Way

Cherry Blossom Viewing Arashiyama

Hanami? What on earth does that mean, you might ask yourself. The Japanese word Hanami literally translates to “flower viewing”, but is commonly referred to as cherry blossom viewing. Traditionally, Hanami involves a picnic party to enjoy food and drinks with your friends, all while sitting underneath canopies of white and pink blossoms. You want to join in to the fun? Here’s “how to Hanami”.

 

Watch the Forecast & Pick a Date

Cherry blossom season ain’t a very punctual season of the year. The Japanese Weather Association releases a report around February every year, which reports the dates on when to exect the blossoms in full bloom. This is a good indicator for planning your trip, but stay flexible and keep an eye on the forecasts. Cold temperatures, wind and rain can all affect the delicate flowers and their blooming time.

Arashiyama Mountains and Cherry Blossoms

 

Find the perfect Hanami spot

Once you’ve managed the tricky part of finding the perfect date to visit Japan, it’s time to find the perfect Hanami spot! Make sure to check if the park you intend to go to allows picnics. Also, try to arrive early, as picnic spots underneath the cherry blossom trees can fill up quickly in popular places. In some places, it is actually common practice to reserve yourself a spot by laying out your picnic mat.

Cherry Blossoms Minabe Dam

 

Bring lots of food & drinks + your friends

Now onto everyone’s favorite part – food and drinks! Usually, Hanami is set up as a potluck, meaning that everyone brings something to share. We shared bento boxes, some snacks and Sakura Mochi which were filled with strawberries. Drinks-wise, if you want to keep it traditional, go for Sake. Of course you can bring any drinks you’d like. During cherry blossom season, you can find all sorts of seasonal drinks, such as beer with Sakura printed on the cans or Sakura pepsi.

 

Have fun & take of photos

‘Nuff said, right?

Cherry Blossom Viewing Picnic

 

Leave no trace

“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.”. Make sure to take all of your trash with you when you leave your picnic spots. There aren’t many garbage bins in the streets in Japan, but you can always find some in front of convenience stores (“Conbinis” in Japanglish).

 

So there you go! That’s all you need to know to throw a perfect Hanami party πŸ™‚

 

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How to Hanami

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30 Comment

  1. This is such an excellent idea, Doro! This is already on my bucket list!

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Definitely go and have a little Hanami party if you get the chance to visit Japan during cherry blossom season, it’s super fun! πŸ™‚

  2. I’ve heard a lot about cherry blossom and have been thrilled to see your pictures. Thanks for a detailed writeup and i am surely gonna refer back while heading for my dose of cherries blossoming!

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      I’m happy to hear that you’ve found the post helpful πŸ™‚

  3. Cherry blossom viewing is such a popular thing in Japan. I am from Taiwan and I know a lot of people from my country would go there specifically for this! Thank you for sharing you experience! I wish to see this in person someday.

  4. Neni says: Reply

    This is too beautiful. I wish I could go there. Japan donated some of those trees to the city I’m living in and now, years later, it’s such a beautiful alley I always like to visit.
    Oh and by the way, your socks are too cute.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Oh that’s so cool! Haha thanks, bought them in Japan πŸ˜€

  5. It’s still on my bucket list. I lived in vancouver for a year and they have beautiful cherry blossoms too, ut nothing can beat Japan. Hopefully i get there soon! πŸ˜€

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Just looked up pictures of the cherry blossoms in Vancouver – looks absolutely BEAUTIFUL too! πŸ™‚

  6. Japan seems to be the perfect place to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of nature.I will be in Japan next year and Cherry blossom is something that I’m looking forward to so much.Love all those gorgeous shades of pink!Can’t wait to Hanami!

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Japan indeed is perfect for nature lovers! Enjoy you trip next year πŸ™‚

  7. Janna says: Reply

    It’s been my dream to visit Japan and part of that is because of the cherry blossoms! Thanks for the tips you shared here. It’ll be helpful for my future trip to Japan.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Glad to hear that the post is helpful πŸ™‚

  8. Becky says: Reply

    Who knew there was a special word for flower-viewing? I’ve seen the cherry blossoms numerous times in Washington DC but never in Japan. Looks so beautiful!

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      I’ve seen pictures of the cherry blossoms in Washington DC, looks really beautiful too! πŸ™‚

  9. I”m all about a cherry blossom festival! I would assume it could be tricky planning a trip during the season, with weather patterns changing. Looks like you had a great experience. Cherry blossoms, a picnic and friends, look to be the ideal place to be.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      It’s a bit tricky, but doable if you don’t mind not planning everything beforehand πŸ™‚

  10. The cheery blossoms are something our kids talk about all the time. Maybe a trip to Japan is in our future for sure there is some much to see and in Japan for families. A trip would need to coincide with the cherry blossoms for sure

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Oh really? There’s indeed a lot to see in Japan! And I can imagine it to be very family-friendly as well πŸ™‚

  11. So beautiful and fun! Can’t wait to see Japan. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Hahah love your socks! I didn’t know that the Japanese had a word for flower viewing – then again, I’m not surprised. Great guide! I, unfortunately, missed the season while I was in Japan in 2014 but my parents managed to see it (lucky them). Hoping to get myself back to Japan to see it.. Will definitely bring the Sake πŸ˜€

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Haha thanks πŸ˜€ I like getting funny socks as souvenirs, so I obviously had to get some in Japan too πŸ˜‰

  13. Last September was my first visit to Japan. Tokyo was the city and I am in love with this place directly. I must visit Japan during spring, thank you for sharing.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      I loved Tokyo as well which surprised me because I am usually not a big city person πŸ™‚

  14. Lovely trees! There’s something special about the cherry blossom: it’s spring !
    I love their colors… so sad there are not so many here in Belgium
    This really looks like a great experience: picnic in these beautiful gardens

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Aren’t they beautiful? πŸ™‚ I live in the Netherlands, so I dont’t get to see them every year either…

  15. Such beautiful impressions! I always was thinking to see theses spots with my own eyes, since I heard these cherry blossoms must be something truly beautiful.
    “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.” – this is very wise and useful, great that you mention this, because I think this is some kind of travel wisdom in general πŸ™‚
    Thank you for these great impressions!

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Glad that you enjoyed reading the post πŸ™‚
      It’s indeed sort of a travel wisdom in general not to leave any trash laying around – too bad that not everyones sticks to this!

  16. Wow, that was a fun and a unique post on cherry blossoms. Have come across so many amazing pictures of them that I want to visit Japan solely to see them. And your post just gave me a clear picture on how I can enjoy the blossoms in tradional Japanese way or shall I say how to plan my Hanami when I visit Japan in future :). Picnic in such a gorgeous location sounds fun and great way to spend time with friends and family.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Happy to hear that you enojyed reading the post πŸ™‚

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