Going to Hanami

Well, spring has arrived and the cherry blossoms have started blooming. The bloom this years has been quite late so it looks like this weekend is going to be the time to go see them. (At least for us Tokyo denizens) So let’s take a look at some expressions and vocabulary you might find useful for this time of year.

花見 – Hanami
Well, the first key word to remember is 花見(はなみ) which is the tradition of going out to parks or whatnot to see the cherry blossoms called 桜(さくら). The cherry blossoms bloom only once a year so this is quite an event.

– Go to see cherry blossom.

You may be aware that 花見 is not just about taking a stroll in the park. It usually involves grabbing a spot to gather, chat, and drink alcohol. Famous parks like 上野公園(うえのこうえん) get so crowded this time of year that people often head out very early in the morning to grab a good spot for their group. Since the beginning of April is when most companies hire new graduates, the new hires are sometimes given the task of grabbing and holding a good spot for the rest of the employees should the company decided to do 花見. As an event, you can also “do” 花見 as seen below. In fact, either going or doing is acceptable.

– Do Hanami.

Like many other festivals and traditions, you can also decide to attach the honorific 「お」 to the front of 「花見」 to get 「お花見」.

– Let’s go to Hanami!

– Want to do Hanami!

While people usually go see 桜 during the day, other also like to go see them during the night in the backdrop of city lights called 「夜桜」(よざくら)

– Cherry blossoms are very pretty at night.

You might want to check whether the cherry blossoms are actually blooming at the park you’re heading to by checking out a site like this one.

  1. つぼみ – buds
  2. 咲き始め(さきはじめ) – staring to bloom
  3. N分咲き – degree of bloom ranging from 1 (least) to 9 (most)
  4. 満開(まんかい) – full bloom

Personally, I’m thinking of checking out 井の頭公園. Apparently you can walk there from 吉祥寺, which is a cool little town for shopping accessible from the JR中央線. Why? Because this site lists it with the maximum 5 hearts as a romantic date spot!