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Goin’ Japanesque!

14 Phrases for the Cherry Blossom Season

The theme for today’s installment in our Japanese Language is… wait for it… cherry blossoms! Called “sakura” in Japanese, they have been symbolic of Japan since antiquity, to the point that sometimes the word for “flower” (“hana”) means “sakura” all by itself. When studying Japanese, you’ll come across many sakura-related words and phrases, which are often used as seasonal words (“kigo”) when writing tanka, haiku, and other traditional poetry. Let’s get to it! Ref:

*Since the Heian period (794–1185), the status of cherry blossoms has been so notable that when the character for “flower” (花) is used, it sometimes specifically means “sakura” (桜).


1. Hatsu-zakura (初桜)


The first (“hatsu”) sakura flower to bloom in a year; an early-blooming sakura


2. Hana-doki (花時)

The time (“toki”) when sakura bloom


3. Sakura-zuki (桜月)

Another name for the third month, Yayoi, of the old lunar (“tsuki” means “moon”) calendar


4. Hana-dayori (花便り)

Tidings or news (“tayori”) of sakura blooming


5. Sakura-gari (桜狩り)


The act of visiting various cherry blossom spots, of appreciating sakura, or simply going for hanami (“flower viewing”)
*The poets of yore would go out for sakura-gari (“kari” means “hunting”) as they recited traditional Japanese poems.


6. Sakura-bito (桜人) / Hana-bito (花人)

A person (“hito”) who loves sakura; a person attending hanami


7. Hana-goromo (花衣)

周延 千代田大奥御花見

Clothing (“koromo”) worn during hanami; particularly, the beautiful kimono worn by women during that time


8. Hana-zukare (花疲れ)

A sense of fatigue (“tsukare”) coming from over-stimulation at the sight of cherry blossoms in full bloom as well as dealing with hanami crowds


9. Sakura-ame (桜雨) / Hana no Ame (花の雨)


The lamentable rain (“ame”) that falls around the hanami period


10. Hana-gumori (花曇り)


Cloudy (“kumori”) skies when cherry blossoms bloom
*There are many weather changes during cherry blossom season. On a note, this phenomenon is also called yōkaten (養花天).


11. Hana no Kaze (花の風)

The regrettable wind (“kaze”) that sends cherry blossoms scattering


12. Hana-bie (花冷え)

月岡芳年 月百姿 廓の月

Sudden and temporary cold (“hie”) weather that arrives after the climate has already warmed up during the cherry blossom season


13. Hana-kagari (花篝)

A controlled bonfire (“kagari”) kindled below the cherry trees to illuminate them; also called hana-bonbori (花雪洞)

Related: 3 Great Spots for Nighttime Sakura: Fantastical View of Cherry Blossoms


14. Yumemi-gusa (夢見草)

歌川広重 御殿山花見之図

Another name for sakura (lit. “dreaming grass/plant”)
*This name derives from the spell-binding beauty of cherry blossoms, as if you’re lost in a dream.


Try these phrases out when you’re actually at hanami, and you’ll be in the Japanese spirit of things, through and through!


Would you consider yourself a sakura-bito? If you hear the hana-dayori and come to Japan during the hana-doki of Sakura-zuki, make sure to wear your hana-goromo when you go for sakura-gari! Don’t get too over stimulated and fall into hana-zukare, though. Also, watch out to not catch a cold if a hana-bie hits!

Related: Other sakura articles

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