Hanami (Flower Viewing) - End of March or early April

Cherry blossom promenade

What's the meaning of this event?
Flower Viewing is an event mostly to go out to hills and fields and enjoy eating and drinking in order to see cherry blossoms. The blooming season is spread over several weeks because Japan is quite long from South to North. Generally, however, people enjoy flower viewing from the latter part of March through the first part of April.

What's the history of this event?
The custom probably originated in farming-related rituals held in the early spring, in which people made temporary kitchen ranges and ate and drank outside. The custom was later somewhat simplified, and people brought the food out in nested boxes, rather than cooking it outside.

Until the Edo Era, which started in 1603, Flower Viewing as an organized activity had been practiced mostly amoung nobles or samurai. After that, Daimyo (feudal lord) and common people started to enjoy going to hills and fields with Sake and the special picnic (box) lunch which people eat seeing cherry blossoms.
Moreover, people artificially planted cherry blossom trees at shrines, temples, open spaces and river banks in the suburbs, therefore, "the places which is famous for cherry blossoms" were created.

What do people do on this day?
Flower Viewing is still popular events today. However it is mostly known as only banquets which people enjoy eating and drinking under the cherry blossoms in the evening. Some young employees have to be keeping places to see cherry blossoms on sheets of plastic from early morning till night for their companies' banquets. And some people have boisterous parties until late at night.

More pictures?
Photoes by Atsushi Yamada
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Date last modified: Tuesday, 05-Mar-2002 16:50:01 EST
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