Cherry Blossom Festival: More Than Just a Spring Party!
The Cherry Blossom Festival is a special social event in Japan from the time of antiquity when aristocrats along with their artists, musicians and poets spent some time under the blooming Sakuras. It might be surprising to know that "Hanami" simply means “flower viewing" and for non-Japanese as well as those who do not possess knowledge of Japanese culture, it might be a wonder why viewing some flowers in a park is a special event.
The Sakura is an icon in Japanese culture and society, and is often depicted in Japanese art and even on candy wrappers. The flower represents the rare beauty of a woman, and aside from its exquisite charm, it only blooms for ten days during the year. This flower may literally be a "late bloomer," but when it does it is certainly the prettiest of its kind.
The traditional way of observing the Cherry Blossom Festival is to visit parks and temples and adore the beauty of this unique blossom with some traditional Japanese music, dancing and even a tea ceremony. In modern times, Hanami is celebrated more with a picnic or a party. Some people think it's just a time for Japanese people to get drunk with their foreign friends. However, to others, it's more than that. The Cherry Blossom Festival is a time to bond and hang out with your friends outside of the bars and clubs of Roppongi district in Tokyo.
The Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan is also a chance for foreigners to wear a Yukata (a Japanese cotton Kimono). When donning a Japanese costume, visit a park nearby which is favoured by older Japanese people. This way, you can avoid rowdy picnic-goers. The parks are shaded with little pink flowers, and as the wind gusts the fallen petals draw a magical twirl. With all the trees in full bloom you will be transported into this enchanting experience. If you look closely, the flowers are almost white in colour, but if you watch the trees from afar, it has a pretty and faint pink hue. Watching the Sakura, these dainty little flowers explicitly symbolize simplicity and beauty.
When to Go to Cherry Blossom Festival
Odds n' Ends
If you happen to arrive in a crowded park in Tokyo or any metropolitan city in Japan, try the Cherry Blossom Festival at night. Also known as "night viewing" this type of Hanami is only done in famous gardens in Japan and the Sakuras are made even more charming with the lights illuminating each blossom. Strolling in a Japanese garden and drinking your hot green tea, this experience can reduce stress after a day of working or touring around Japan. Instead of young people, you will often meet families, older Japanese or couples out for a romantic date during "night viewing". After eating or drinking, be sure to clean up your mess. Though most people think it's a time for a drinking spree, some parks prohibit bringing alcohol during Hanami.
Lastly, you don't have to visit a famous temple or a crowded park for the Cherry Blossom Festival. Sakura trees are planted along the streets of Japan and in just a quick turn to the left or right you will find a small spot to adore their beauty. For the modern Japanese society, Hanami is a time to sit back and spend some lazy afternoons away from the hustle and bustle of their intoxicating lives.
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