History of Hanami (Cherry Blossoms Viewing) in Japan
You can not ignore cherry blossoms when Japan comes into your mind, and when mentioning spring of the country, cherry blossom viewing nearly covers all activities during this season. So, when did the tradition begin?
In Nara Period (710-794), when it comes to flowers, it actually refers to plum flowers because of the leverage of Tang Dynasty in China. Cherry blossoms hadn’t been adored by the imperial family until Heian Era (794-1192). At that time, hanami (cherry blossom viewing) was popular just among imperial family and members of aristocracy. The first hanami festival was said to be staged by Emperor Saga in the 9th century. Commoners began to enjoy cherry blossoms in peaceful and stable Edo Periord (1603- 1867), and some spots have been made to be hot since then, like Ueno Park, Shinjuku Gyoen, Mt. Yoshino, Sumida Park, etc.
The Best Time to View Cherry Blossoms in Each Part of Japan in 2020
Cherry blossoms indicate the approach of spring. Japanese people are so keen on viewing cherry blossoms that Weathernews Inc., Weather Map Co.,Ltd. and Japan Weather Association issue the forecast of blooming dates in every prefecture of Japan from Wednesday of the first week of March every year.
Sakura in majority parts of Japan begin to bloom during late March to early April. However, a few places do not follow the rule. Cherry blossom viewing period in Kawazu of Shizuoka Prefecture falls between early February and early March. In Hokkaido and eastern region of Japan, full bloom often goes to late April to early May. What’s more, the period of the first bloom to full bloom is just seven days. Therefore, making a plan in advance before viewing cherry blossoms in Japan is highly recommended.
Facts About Cherry Blossom Viewing in Japan in 2020
Every spring cherry blossom trees are ubiquitous in Japan, from parks, shrines and castles to riverbanks and mountains.
Parks and gardens: Ueno Park, Inokashira Onshi Park, Nara Park, Hirosaki Park, Tsutsujigaoka Park, Ritsurin Park, etc.
Castles: Nijo Castle, Osaka Castle, Himeji Castle, Matsumoto Castle, etc.
Shrines and temples: Heian Shrine, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Daigoji Temple, Senkoji Temple, etc.
Riverbanks: Yodogawa Riverside Park, Arakogawa Park, Fukurogawa River, etc.
Streets: Yaesu Sakura Street, Philosopher's Path, Kancho-gai Dori St. in Towada City, Nitchusen Memorial Bike and Pedestrian Path, etc.
Mountains: Hanamiyama Park, Mt.Yoshino, etc.
During sakura season, many cherry blossom spots in Japan hold light-up events which often start after sunset, at around 18:00. The stunning cherry blossoms become more gorgeous and magical at night. Illuminations in some places are chosen as the most fantastic ones unanimously, such as Meguro River, Nijo Castle, Hirosaki Park, Sankeien Garden, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Mifuneyama Rakuen, etc.
For Japanese, cherry blossom viewing is not just appreciating the flowers, and it is also a time to enjoy performances, sample local snacks and attend tea ceremonies. Festivals usually go along with light-up events lasting from a few days to two weeks. There is even a concert at Heian Shrine in Kyoto.
What can you do besides just viewing cherry blossoms?
Japanese always place a premium on cherry blossoms, so they are not satisfied with just seeing the flowers. Therefore, they sit under cherry trees, and even occupy a perfect place with mats beforehand. And they have picnics and barbecues. If there is a pond at the spot and flowers are planted around the pond, rowing boats is the best way to enjoy reflection of flowers. When petals begin to fall, it appears that you are on a huge pink carpet.
How to shoot perfect cherry blossom photographs?
Cherry blossom season is quite short, just around two weeks. Thus nearly all viewers eager to take perfect pictures to share with family and friends or leave a sweet memory. Here are some tips of photographing the flowers.