In between the cold winter and the hot summer, Spring is an ideal time to visit japan. If you are visiting Japan between January and May you will soon be swept up in the fervour of everything cherry blossom flavoured - from ice-cream to crisps to this year's Starbucks offering. The excitement is nationwide with televised cherry blossom forecasts!
We have some tips on how to appreciate cherry blossom just like a local.
Literally translated as "looking at flowers", this is the term used to appreciate the blossoms whilst having a picnic. Gather up your friends and family and grab a space at the local park.
2. Appreciate why blossom is so popular
The delicate, short lives of blossom resonate with Japanese beliefs. From "wabi sabi" to "Mono no aware" the Japanese have beautiful words and phrases which English just doesn't have. "Mono no aware" means the pathos of things. It's understanding the transience of the passing of things as well as experiencing a gentle sadness about the reality of life. This captures blossom for me. It's beautiful but has a short life so take time out to appreciate the nicer things in life. This sums up Japanese life for me. Take time, enjoy your surroundings and appreciate them.
3. Watch official forecasts
4. Pick when to visit
Unfortunately, Mother Nature can be fickle. Some years there can be a warm early spring and sometimes a cold snap creates problems with cherry blossom watching. Generally the blossom season spans from January until May. Starting in Okinawa in January and ending in Hokkaido in May. Higher altitude areas have a later blossoming. Remember the TV forecasts are your friend for up-to-date information.
5. Pick a location
Here are some of the more popular locations to hanami.
6. Prepare your picnic
Snack-sized foods such as sushi, dango (sweet dumplings on sticks) and onigiri (rice balls) are ideal for Hanami picnics. Many shops have prepared bento boxes with seasonal tweaks. As well as food, you will also need a blanket to sit on and bags for taking your rubbish home with you.
7. Prepared Packing
Remember your selfie stick if you want to blend in like a local and warmer clothes to wear for when the sun goes down - cherry blossom is beautiful by night however it can get chilly. With this in mind remember to pack a flask with a hot drink. Comfortable shoes should be worn - you might have to walk a bit to find a good hanami spot.
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