Hanami (花見) literally means “flower viewing”. It is one of the most important traditions in Japan and it´s held all over the country in spring. Even though Hanami is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers, sakura (cherry blossoms 桜) and ume blossoms (梅) are usually the main flowers that Hanami refers to.
The arrival of cherry blossoms reveals the end of the cold winter weather, and people from all over Japan celebrate the flowering and blooming of sakura trees holding picnics with family and friends. The blossom forecast (桜前線, sakurazensen) is announced each year by the weather bureau, and is watched carefully by those planning hanami as the blossoms only last about two weeks. This beautiful and ephemeral tradition has been intimately linked to the concept of Mono no Aware, translated as a “sensitivity to things.”
According to mono no aware, a falling or wilting autumn flower is more beautiful than one in full bloom; a fading sound more beautiful than one clearly heard. The sakura or cherry blossom tree is the epitome of this conception of beauty; the flowers of the most famous variety, somei yoshino, nearly pure white tinged with a subtle pale pink, bloom and then fall within a single week. The subject of a thousand poems and a national icon, the cherry blossom tree embodies for Japan beauty as a transient experience. (Source)
The origins of hanami began to take place many centuries ago. This tradition is said to have started during the Nara Period (710-784) when the Chinese Tang Dynasty influenced Japan, although at that time, it was ume blossoms that people admired, instead of sakura blossoms; however, by the beginning of the Heian Period (794-1192) Sakura trees were the main subject of admiration.
Hanami was first used as a term for cherry blossom viewing in the Heian era novel Tale of Genji. Sakura originally was used to divine that year’s harvest, as well as an announcer of the rice-planting season. People believed in gods’ existence inside the trees and made offerings at the root of sakura trees.
This year´s Sakura forecast has just been updated!
Head over here to see the bloom of the cherry blossoms, it looks like it is expected to open close to last´s years average schedule.
You can see all the information updated from the Japan Weather Association.
*Chart via JapanTravelAdvice