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How to do Hanami step by step

How to do Hanami step by step

Cherry blossoms is a big thing in Japan. When the cherry trees blossom, Japanese people do Hanami.

That means that they are viewing (mi) flowers (hana).

 

You would like to know HOW TO DO Hanami?

Let’s learn from the locals!

Follow me.

Hanami Ueno Tokyo

 

Lots of hana to mi!

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

 

10 steps to become a Hanami master:

1. READ THE NEWS and follow TV which show maps on how far north in the country cherry tree blossoming has progressed. Weather forecasts will report on when to expect full bloom. Okinawa for example gets Hanami as early as February.

We had Hanami in Tokyo very early as well, which started mid March and the petals were already falling the very first days of April 2013. You might start to feel anxious about trees and worry about blossom in Japan.

This is a metro info-poster at Tokyo’s Kyodo Station with remaining Hanami spots and matching train stops – if you are very late, you can still hope to see the flowers bloom at the designated places on the Odakyu Line. The ones crossed out (blue Kanji stickers) have already faded away.

DSC03747-500x332

 

Everyone is looking forward to Hanami. Even Domo the Japanese mascot.

Japanese brown fuzzy monster Domo doing Hanami

 

2. FIND the perfect HANAMI SPOT. I have written up the most popular cherry blossom spots in Tokyo and added a decent amount of pictures for you.

It is popular to reserve a place at the most crowded places in the morning by placing a blue Hanami mat to mark your spot, sometimes one pitiful person will be holding the spot for the rest.

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

 

Right under the tree is perfect.

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

 

3. JOIN IN and SOCIALIZE. Hanami is a group thing. Call friends and hook up for a neat Hanami get together.

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

 

If you are on your own, don’t worry. Just go out to meet the crowds. Strolling along the cherry trees and observing the celebrations is equally fascinating. I would recommend Ueno park which provides more attractions and food stalls for Hanami passers by and passionate viewers. Hanami weekends are most crowded – it is easy to meet new people as the atmosphere is very relaxed.

Tokyo anime fair

 

Hanami is a time of no borders and a great opportunity to share and socialize. We had Hanami dinner with our Japanese friend Saori and met a sweet couple – Mila is a teacher who might become the second Serbian national to be granted Japanese citizenship, married to her Japanese husband.

Hanami get together restaurant Tokyo

 

For more formal festivals during Hanami, you can attend opera-organized music performances.

Tokyo spring festival opera advertising

 

4. Get your HANAMI EQUIPMENT together. For the traditional Hanami picnic. A typically blue waterproof mat serves as a plastic blanket. A carton to make for a small table is also a good idea. A grill, if you are planning a barbecue.

You can get all Hanami stuff for a good price at the Donki (Don Quijote discount chain) – a store all around Tokyo selling overwhelmingly many gadgets.

Hanami equipment at the Donki discount shop

 

Bring a sweater (or drink a lot of sake) as spring days can get chilly at dusk. This is also the time when people either pack up or start partying. To get the most of Hanami I would say it’s best to come before sun set.

Tokyo Harajuku fashion walk

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

 

5. Buy HANAMI FOOD. The most popular and convenient are ready made Hanami bentos.

DSC03843-376x250 Hanami bento Tokyo

 

For drinks the choice is clear: sake, sake, sake… until you drop.

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

 

Or… sweet peach drinks not to be missed due to their overall Hanami make up.

DSC03885-376x250 DSC03883-376x250

 

My tip. The conbini (Japanese convenience store) provides for cheap and good treats. These stores stock up on food combos. You can buy special Hanami deserts and sweets at the Japanese conbini during that special time of the year.

My favourite conbini store Lawson gave out brochures with gorgeous and delicious Hanami sweets.

DSC04484 Hanami sweets on japanese plate

 

The best is the Hanami daifuku (glutinous rice cake filled with bean paste, cream and strawberry). Tomek and I bought all daifuku from Watson’s a few weeks ago (and treated ourselves right away, not even under a proper cherry tree. Gaijin. Ugh.)

Daifuku Hanami desert

 

Daifuku power, eh powder.

Daifuku powder lips Japan

 

If you see pink products packed in pink wrapping you will know that this is a proper Hanami treat.

Hanami themed sweet bun conbini Tokyo

 

All the big chains are doing Hanami. You can get Hanami themed Starbucks products.

Starbucks Hanami products

 

For the sophisticated tongue, manicured Hanami confection and bentos await at the fantastic basement food floor of Tokyo’s luxurious department store Isetan at Shinjuku.

P1350665 P1350664

 

Food vendors at Ueno Park serve hot Hanami fare. The sign reads Sakura flavour. The sticky sticks were a bit glibbery and jelly like. And very sweet. The smell is reminiscent of Sakura scent from the blooming trees.

Hanami Ueno Tokyo

Hanami Ueno Tokyo

 

Food vendors will make sure you return with a full belly.

Hanami Ueno Tokyo

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

 

Do not eat these. This is a game where you can catch your own fish.

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

Hanami Ueno Tokyo

 

The flavour of Sakura on a stick demonstrated by Alice.

Hanami Ueno Tokyo

 

Hanami is a great time to meet new people. We also befriended Alice, a French illustrator infatuated with Japanese anime which inspires her work (www.rosalys.net).

Hanami Ueno Tokyo

 

Our Hanami dinner with Saori, Mila and Yoshi was more on the fancy side. If you go out to a restaurant make sure you have made a reservation in advance.

Hanami is a time of joy. We sure did feel very relaxed and “unwinded in cozy private space and Japanese modern floor“. The chopstick wrapping had interesting English.

funny English Tokyo restaurnat

 

Our Hanami starter.

fancy Hanami starter dish Tokyo

 

And another one.

Hanami starter dish

 

Raw tuna. There were a lot more dishes but we ate them all…

Raw tuna Tokyo dish

 

6. Try YOZAKURA.  Japanese people also celebrate yozakura which is Hanami at night.

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

 

In many places such as Ueno Park temporary paper lanterns are hung to celebrate yozakura.

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

 

7. TAKE OFF SHOES when sitting on the Hanami mat or if entering a traditional Japanese restaurant. The same customs apply when walking into a Japanese home.

Tokyo anime fair

Hanami Ueno Tokyo

 

8. TAKE IN THE BEAUTY of Sakura flowers, sit back and relax!

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

 

Watch the colours of the fragile flowers change as it gets late.

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

 

Taking a lot of pictures (not only) of flowers is also a custom.

Tokyo anime fair

 

9. CLEAN UP after your Hanami. Usually, there will be specially provided trash containers – you should recycle your trash the Japanese way. Very impressive how clean the spots are with all those people having Hanami picnics.

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

 

If there are no bins, wrap it all up into plastic bags and pile up neatly like this. It is amazing how clean everything is despite millions of Japanese party people doing Hanami.

Tokyo anime fair

 

10. Know Hanami HISTORY. The tradition of hanami is many centuries old – just as some trees.

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

 

Hanami celebrations started during the Nara period (710–794) with the admiration of ume (plum) blossoms, still practised by older people today – with much calmer admiration.

Ueno Park Hanami Tokyo

 

Even the manholes do Hanami in Tokyo.

Hanami Ueno Tokyo

 

I hope you had a great Hanami and for all western readers: I wish you a Happy Easter with a lot of cute bunnies bringing you eggs and spring sunshine!

Happy Easter Bunny Card

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