Everything You Need to Know about the Majestic Cherry Blossoms
“A flower does not think of competing to
the flower next to it. It just blooms.”
– Zenkei Shibayama
Cherry Blossoms in Japan
The arrival of sakura (cherry blossoms) in Japan initiates the starting point of Spring of the year. It’s an annual ritual that is noteworthy and remarkable as there are forecasts determining the timeline and location where different types of cherry blossoms will flower. The hanami (flower viewing season) should not be missed out by everyone as the bloom is said to last a maximum of about two weeks. Henceforth, sakura lovers, regardless Japanese or foreigners, would often take this blooming season to their hearts to distinguish both the kaika (blooming) and mankai (full bloom) in order to have an accurate prognosis for their hanami plans and dates. Hanami is important to the Japanese as it is known as a hugely symbolic and cherished source of national pride, which appreciates the Goddess of Nature while embracing the new season of year. Hanami, which can be in the day or at dusk, is a luxuriating and relaxing occasion for everyone. Families, friends, and lovers, gather and sit under the sakura trees and indulge in the beauty Spring brings while enjoying food they have packed for their hanami. It would be ideal if hanami destinations are being sited at city parks, landscape gardens, and castle grounds or even along riverbanks.
History of the Honored Hanami Rituals
The practice of hanami begun during the Nara Period (AD 710-794) and the term hanami has been used to refer to cherry blossom-viewing parties back in the Heian Period (AD 794-1185). In ancient Japan, cherry blossoms were used to announce the rice-planting season and bless the harvest of the year. There is also a Japanese folklore that told of spirits inhabiting Sakura trees, and rice wine were given as offerings. For that reason, hanami parties were set up as an annual celebration of feasting, drinking and merriment. All these are thought to have undertaken in the Imperial court of Emperor Saga and gradually filtered down through the Samurai classes to become what is now a custom treasured by all stratum of the Japanese society.
Dates of Bloom
So, when can you see the cherry blossoms?
According to the cherry blossom forecast by Japan Meteorological Corporation (JMC) released on February 1, 2018, the peak of the Sakura bloom in Tokyo will be around March 26. For the Kansai area, Kyoto’s sakura is expected to begin its flowering season on March 29, followed by Osaka on March 30. Some areas in southern Kyushu especially Fukuoka, are expected to bloom a day later than Tokyo on March 23 and for Kagoshima, that will be on April 2. The latest sakura blossoms will occur in Northern Japan where Aomori in the Tohoku Region will experience this bloom on April 24, and sakura in Sapporo of Hokkaido on May 3. The factors that influence the blooming of cherry blossom varies as the forecast is mainly based on the temperatures, past area data, types and growth status of cherry blossoms annually.
Download the “Sakura Navi” App by JMC to find out the latest sakura updates.