How to Hanami! Introduction to Cherry Blossom Viewing
Sakura cherry blossom is decidedly one of the symbols of Japan. Thus the “hanami” experience or cherry blossom viewing may be already on your to-do list in Japan.
This time I am explaining how to hanami and some great spots for it.
How to Hanami/Ohanami
1. Deciding When and Where to Go
Photo by flickr
We cannot possibly enjoy hanami in a very crowded place on a rainy day.
Thus critical elements to watch out for are weather, blossom condition, and how crowded places are.
In Japan sakura blossom forecasts are even available in some weather programs, and you can best decide day and time, using news and Internet information.
2. Preparing What You Need
Photo by flickr
Three indispensable items for hanami are picnic tarp, food and drink!
It is advisable to bring a large picnic tarp so that everyone can sit comfortably leaving enough room to put what was brought and purchased nearby.
Picnic tarps are available to purchase at stores near hanami locations, but please note that they are often sold out.
I would recommend that you obtain it in advance.
Let’s prepare food and drink.
You can purchase food & drink together with your friends at a supermarket or convenience store near the hanami location or each of you can separately prepare food and bring it in. It will be fun to select your favorite liquor and juice, or splurge on deli food in the basement of department stores, etc.
Preparation stage is a part of the fun of hanami.
If you bring something that everyone can participate in, such as card games, it may spice up your party more.
3. Securing Space..!?
This is the hardest part of hanami. You need to secure space in advance otherwise it is pretty common that you won’t find any place to sit down.
I recommend that someone should go ahead of the party and secure a place under the best sakura tree. You can use the picnic tarp for this purpose, so it is indeed a must-have item.
4. Just Enjoy!
Finally comes time of the main event of hanami. Eat, drink, chat as much as you like and relieve the stress of everyday life! After all the main part of hanami may be eating, drinking and talking rather than viewing cherry blossoms (lol).
However, please be careful not to get carried away. You should enjoy it while keeping good manners and showing consideration to others. If you receive complaints, it can spoil your good mood.
5. Pick Up After Yourselves
You had a great time, and it’s time to go home!
Wait a second, did you clean up afterwards?
Hanami spots in the park, a public place for everyone to enjoy. Please make sure you remove trash and picnic tarps so that other people can use the place comfortably after you leave.
Most hanami spots have designated places to collect trash. Please dispose trash, while properly observing trash separation and other rules. Let’s keep good manners all the way to the end.
3 Recommended Hanami Spots in Tokyo
I will introduce a few choice hanami spots in the following.
1. Yoyogi Park
Yoyogi Park is so large that you won’t have difficulty in securing space. The fountain adds to the nice atmosphere.
Open Days: All days
Access: 3-minute walk from JR Harajuku Station. Or walk 3 minutes from Yoyogi Koen Station of Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line. Otherwise it is 3-minute walk from Meiji-Jingu-mae (Harajuku) Station of Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line and Fukutoshin Line. Map
2. Inokashira Park
A stream flows through Inokashira Park and it has a beautiful landscape. This place is recommended as you can enjoy the view of sakura from a boat.
Open Days: Any day
Access: 5-minute walk from JR Kichijoji Station. Or 1 minute away from Inogashira Koen Station of Keio Inogashira Line. Map
3. Ueno Park
The best part in Ueno Park is… the cherry-lined road after all. Sakura blossom spreading in front of your eyes is breathtakingly beautiful!
Open Days: Any day
Access: 2-minute walk from Ueno Station of JR, Tokyo Metro Ginza Line or Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line. Or walk for a minute from Keisei Ueno Station of Keisei Main Line. Map
So far I have explained the basics of hanami cherry blossom viewing for the first timers. It’s pretty simple, isn’t it?
There are also many great spots for hanami outside of the metropolitan Tokyo. Flowers bloom later if you go a little further north, and you can still enjoy it for a while.
I hope everyone finds a favorite sakura viewing spot in Japan and enjoy it.