It’s still in the middle of winter in Japan, but beer bottles and cans from Asahi are already dressing up for sakura-filled spring!
Because you might be too old to play with your food, but you’re not too old to play with your glasses.
It’s that time of year again, when the cold of winter fades away and gives birth to the beautiful pink and white hues of cherry blossoms contrasted against their trees’ elegant dark branches. It’s a season long identified with Japanese culture around the world.
However, news organizations in South Korea are declaring that this has gone on long enough and are calling for a concerted effort to let everyone know once and for all that cherry blossoms are theirs.
Cherry blossom time in Japan is all about appreciating nature and the transitive beauty of life, right? Wrong. It’s totally an excuse to stuff your face with delicious food during “cherry blossom viewing parties”, aka Japan’s über-picnics! Onigiri are usually a popular food to consume under those canopies of candy-pink petals, but cherry blossom-flavoured food and drinks are also unsurprisingly popular around this time of year.
Luckily, mega-popular chain Magnolia Bakery has a store in Japan, and they’re rolling out special cherry blossom cupcakes for spring!
As our readers may be well aware, we Japanese have a passion for the sakura, or cherry trees, turning it into a huge social event when they’re in bloom each spring, even though they last for only about a week. We’re also quite fond of capybaras, as you can tell from the way we delight in pampering them in hot spring baths, and also creating mascot characters out of them as well. Well, we’re right in the middle of sakura season in Tokyo now, and we’ve found a cute little picture that combines these two seemingly unrelated subjects in a delightfully unexpected way. Yes, straight from Ueno, one of the most famous sakura-viewing areas in Tokyo, we bring to you this lovely photo that has captured the hearts of Japanese netizens and gives renewed meaning to the Japanese expression, “hana yori dango.”
Spring has arrived in Japan, and that can mean only one thing: Hanami, or cherry blossom viewing parties! But what is it about hanami, and those pretty pink petals in general for that matter, that manages to capture the hearts and minds of so many?
Let’s take a look at a handful of videos that capture the mood of hanami season perfectly and see if we can pinpoint exactly what it is that makes the season so special!
In Japan, cherry blossoms, or sakura, are the rock stars of the plant kingdom. People obsess over them, their rare public appearances send fans into a frenzy, and the most devoted enthusiasts will even follow their flowering tour as it spreads from Japan’s warmer southern prefectures to the chillier north.
But just as some music acts draw larger crowds than others, these three sakura trees are considered to be the absolute peak of the pink-flowered crowd.
We may be well into October, but spring has already come to Miyagi Prefecture!
This summer saw record high temperatures throughout Japan, and the heat is only now starting to let up now, with some days still hitting 32 degrees Celsius (89 degrees Fahrenheit). Even more surprising though, was the blossoming of some cherry blossom trees – six months early – down in Miyagi, leading some to believe the high temperatures are to blame for the early open sakura flowers.
As April gets underway and Japan is finally able to thaw itself out, people across the country watch eagerly as a wave of delicate pink flowers gradually makes its way north, signalling the arrival of spring and — perhaps more importantly — the opportunity to have hanami drinking parties in public spaces. Apart from in a handful of especially sheltered areas, Tokyo’s cherry blossom has almost all disappeared from the branches above our heads, but for those in the north and naturally colder regions of Japan, the cherry blossom season is only just beginning.
Imagine their shock, however, when our friends in Nagano opened their curtains this morning to discover their towns covered in a thin layer of snow.
Ladies and gentlemen, winter in Japan is officially over. The thermal underwear and thick coats have been packed away and people, or at least those who don’t suffer from allergies, are throwing open their windows and letting the warm air in. It’s at this time of year that people rekindle their love of the outdoors and, armed with their blue plastic ground sheets and big bags of food, head to the park in order to catch a glimpse of the cherry blossom at its best.
The official name for this recreational activity is hanami (花見 lit. flower watching), but for many it’s simply a great opportunity to get together with friends to drink beer in the park. Still, if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right, so provided you can find it in you to fight through the hordes of other like-minded sakura (cherry blossom) fans, there are three locations in particular that we highly recommend visiting.