Enjoy a sakura party like an experienced local with these ten handy essentials.
Now that cherry blossom season is officially in full swing, it’s time to dust off those picnic baskets, pick a popular hanami location, and head out into the great outdoors.
While flower-viewing picnics wouldn’t be complete without some adorable pink drinks and sakura-flavoured treats, there are also some other items that picnic-goers find useful while out enjoying the blossoms, and Japanese travel site Jalan recently delved into the matter by asking 569 of its users to reveal their top ten handy hanami items. So let’s get right to it and take a look at the results below!
10. Simple water heater (4.0%)
There’s still a chill in the air at this time of the year, so items that help warm the body come highly recommended. While some people opt to bring hot water pots or stove-top kettles with portable gas cookers to their hanami parties, Jalan’s users recommend using a “Kantan Yuwakashiki” or “Simple Water Heater” pack that includes a plastic “pot” and sachets that work together to heat cold bottles and cans of drink. Designed for use in disaster situations, this simple liquid-heating system is said to come in handy for those wanting to keep drinks warm during long hanami picnics outdoors.
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9. Cards and games (4.2%)
Hanami picnics can be long, wonderfully drawn-out affairs, and with little room to move or throw a ball or a frisbee in the crowded areas under the blossoms, cards and small puzzle games are a great way to enjoy an entertaining break between the snacks and drinks.
8. Beer server (4.9%)
Speaking of drinks, the beverage of choice for a large majority of picnic-goers during sakura season is Japanese beer. When you’re with a group of beer-loving friends, the best way to ensure free-flowing drinks for everyone is with a keg-style beer server set-up. In Japan, they commonly use box-type dispensers, which can be rented for hanami picnics, providing freshly-pulled, foamy beers for all.
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7. Cardboard (7.7%)
This surprising addition to the list provides another interesting insight into how Japanese people enjoy hanami picnics. Bringing just one disassembled cardboard box to the party means you can use it as a sturdy, desk-like surface to write on, add it as an extra warm, cushioned underlay to your seating, or use it to help pack up all your items to take home at the end of the festivities.
6. Shopping cart (11.8%)
What the Japanese refer to as “shopping carts” are actually two-wheeled trolley bags, which come in handy when carting heavy items to and from crowded picnic venues.
5. Disposable kairo (14.9%)
Another item that keeps people warm in Japan during the chilly hanami season is the disposable kairo. These portable heat packs, first introduced to the market in 1975, generate heat all on their own thanks to the chemical reaction that occurs when iron powder is mixed with salt, water and oxygen. Some of these nonwoven fabric-covered heating pads contain adhesive backing so you can stick them to your clothing, while others are simply slipped into pockets to provide a warm place to keep your fingers toasty while outside in the cold.
4. Folding chairs (37.3%)
You don’t have to be enjoying the cherry blossoms to know that any picnic can benefit from the addition of some folding chairs. No matter what size the chair, the chance to get your posterior off the ground can be a welcome relief after hours of sitting on a Japanese-style picnic blanket.
3. Cushioned Leisure Sheet (41.8%)
When it comes to picnic blankets, people in Japan tend to opt for a lighter alternative: a cushioned leisure sheet. A step up from the blue tarp sheeting you’ll see used by hanami picnic-goers around the country, the cushioned variety provides a thin layer of softness between ground and bum, making it a little more warm and comfortable for all those present.
2. Blankets (43.6%)
Proving that warmth is a top priority for hanami lovers, a blanket or two is an indispensable item to bring along to the picnic, especially when the celebrations can extend into the night-time hours.
1. Wet tissues (53.1%)
And at the top of the list we have the all-important wet tissue. When you’re using your fingers to snack on decadent party delights or raise your beer glass to the beauty of the blossoms, a wipe to keep your hands clean is the handiest essential to pack in your hanami party hamper this season.
So there you have it – some common-sense ideas and some more unusual suggestions to help you get the most out of your cherry blossom-viewing picnics this year!