Hanami 101: Experience Cherry Blossom Festival In Japan Like A Local

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What is HANAMI?

Hanami is a traditional Japanese custom spanning centuries and literally means “flower viewing” in Japanese. The custom began with plum blossoms (ume) but the focus slowly turned to the more popular sakura or cherry blossoms instead and the rest is history. In modern-day context, hanami usually involves outdoor parties beneath the cherry blossom blooms in the day and at night (yozakura). Even though cherry blossoms are the main star, plum blossom viewing (umemi) still takes place in some areas and are particularly popular with the elderly. Here’s a visual guide to identifying flowers this season like a pro.

Types of cherry blossom flowers

What to bring to a Hanami?

Hanami in Tokyo

Source: maconmonitor.com

Here’s a list of hanami picnic essentials to have you looking like a local in not time. Picnic Mat These can be purchased from discount stores across Japan like Daiso or Don Quijote for as little as JPY100. It’s advisable to buy them beforehand as they won’t be readily available especially at prime viewing spots. Disposable Utensils Don’t forget to bring along some plates, cups, cutlery and napkins to enjoy all the glorious food! Blankets Most locals will recommend staying till evening when the cherry blossom trees are lit up for a completely different experience. Since temperatures tend to dip after sunset, do bring along a blanket or a throw just in case!

Hanami Food

Hanami Bento

Japanese hanami bento boxes

Source: i.4meee.com

These themed lunch boxes are more decorative and elaborate compared to your typical convenience store bento.

Here’s a list of must-have items in your bento box:

  • Makizushi – sushi rolls

  • Inarizushi – sushi wrapped in tofu skin

  • Tamago – Japanese style sweet egg omelette

  • Kamaboko – pink and white fish cake

Other typical dishes to complete your meal:

  • Karaage – Japanese deep fried boneless chicken

  • Ebi – deep fried breaded prawn

  • Takoyaki – octopus balls with various filling

  • Onigiri – Japanese rice balls with various filling

  • Tsukemono or salads

Hanami Sweets

Hanami dango and mochi

Source: flavourverse.com

Your meal isn’t complete until you’ve had some dessert! Here’s 2 quintessential springtime desserts to try:

  • Sakura Mochi: Sticky rice cake filled with red bean and wrapped in a salted cherry blossom leaf.

  • Hanami Dango: Sweet dumplings made from rice flour and typically come served on a skewer in three colours – pink, white and green.

How to Hanami?

5 ways to hanami infographic

What to wear to a Hanami?

It’s a waste not to dress up for such a beautiful season! Go all-out with a gorgeous Japanese kimono and don’t forget to snap pictures while you’re at it! Klook offers personalized kimono rental services – and you can even get your hair done at the same time! With outlets in Tokyo, Kyoto and Fukuoka, you’re bound to find one near you. P.S. They have options for men’s kimono too!

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