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YumeTwins Kawaii Culture BlogWhat is Hanami: The Sakura Picnic Party

What is Hanami: The Sakura Picnic Party

By Serena
April 05, 2022

It is early April in Japan and the cherry blossoms are blooming in Tokyo which means that everyone is ready for one thing and one thing only, and that is hanami (flower viewing). But this is not just looking at any old flowers, right now hanami is almost exclusively going out to look at and sit under sakura (cherry blossoms).

Not just anime and manga fans but those interested in Japan might already have an idea of how important of a role cherry blossoms play in Japanese culture. The image of the sakura blossom is almost synonymous with Japan itself.

Hanami

Like the translation says, hanami means flower viewing but it is much deeper than that. Sakura only bloom for about 2 weeks out of the year during spring in Japan. Which means they have become a powerful metaphor for the cyclical nature of life.

As it is something so beautiful and admired but also very temporary, it is no surprise that these rare beauties have the ability to make people stop and ponder life.

Picnic Party

My apologies if the first part made hanami out to be something serious and maybe a little bleak. You can appreciate life and its temporary nature and still have fun! I mean what’s the point of appreciating life if you aren’t enjoying it?

A couple enjoying hanami under the cherry blossoms on a spring day.

aIn Japan it has been established that the best way to appreciate the fleeting beauty of sakura is to go out and have fun with them. With a picnic under a canopy of pinks, whites, and reds, and with good food and good company.

Families and groups of friends will grab their picnic mats, containers of food, coolers for drinks, and outdoor activities like badminton for their sakura picnic party.

Popular Places

As long as you have cherry blossoms and somewhere to sit, you can have a hanami picnic. In Japan there are popular parks which take great care to have beautifully placed and cared for cherry trees. So it is no surprise that these parks are a popular spot for hanami.

So if you are willing to brave the crowds, here are some of the places in Tokyo to enjoy your hanami picnic party.

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Ueno Park

People gather at Ueno park to hanami under the many cherry blossoms.

Ueno Park is one of the most popular spots for hanami in Tokyo, and is a perfect place for a picnic under the sakura. It is easily accessible from the Yamanote Line and has more than 1,000 cherry trees. But sakura is not all you can see in Ueno Park, there is a zoo and museums as well.

Meguro

The Meguro River Cherry Blossom Promenade on both sides of the river.

Meguro River Cherry Blossoms Promenade, which showcases sakura along the river, is also a very popular and breathtaking spot for hanami. You can walk along the river under a never ending canopy of pink or stop at benches along the way for your hanami picnic. Once the petals start to fall the river is turned into a river of petals, and should be on everyone’s ‘Japan Bucket List.’.

Ashikaga Flower Park

Budding botanists should definitely check out Ashikaga Flower Park for a beautiful view year round, but during sakura season in Japan it is an extra magical place! Although it is not in Tokyo, the day trip to Tochigi is well worth it. The Sakura Meguri Walk during the Spring Flower Festival is a beautiful tour of the sakura trees as well as other scenic greenery.

Of course in Japan there are many more famous places for a good hanami experience!

Kawaii Foods

Meeting with friends and family is great but having good food makes it better. Not just delicious food but for hanami it’s common to also have kawaii food! Having homemade food at your hanami picnic means you can put in cute kawaii touches yourself.

Bento (lunch box) art is popular in Japan for daily lunch boxes for kids and adults. For the special hanami occasion the bento art is at its kawaii-est.

Kara-ben (character bento) is a popular way to add a little kawaii to your lunch.

Hanami bento staples include, tamagoyaki (rolled and grilled egg), inari sushi (sushi rice inside of tofu), and onigiri (rice balls). For a kawaii touch you can also do the ever popular octopus sausages where you cut one end of a sausage to make it look like tentacles. There are many different things to eat at a hanami picnic party, so make sure you bring something yummy.

Depending on your location you might also be able to purchase a hanami bento from a supermarket or food shop. There are lots of yummy sakura collaboration menus from restaurants and stores that you can try as well. McDonald’s Japan debuted a Sakura Mochi pie, while Starbucks Japan came out with 3 separate sakura lattes and frappuccinos.

If you are living outside of Japan, check for cherry blossoms festivals near you. The USA National Cherry Blossom Festival happens in Washington D.C. this time of year. If you are interested in having a picnic in the park this spring, why not go during cherry blossom season and have a hanami picnic party!

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Serena

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