Culture of Hanami By TID, Spring 2011 update
Hanami, as you may already know, literally translates to "flower viewing." It's a party that people hold under a cherry blossom tree when it's in full bloom. This is a very big and important event during the year. Some people go to their favorite viewing locations the night before to ensure that they get the spot. Popular parks are filled with people to a point where it's almost impossible to walk around. But, if you ever experienced it, I'm sure you'll be able to understand why most people make it an annual event with their families and friends, even with all that effort. Enjoying delicious food and drinks with your closest friends and family under the beautiful cherry blossoms is an experience you'll never forget.
The relationship between the Japanese and sakura (cherry blossoms) goes way back. The tradition of the hanami is said to have begun in the 8th century, and it's been a big part of Japanese culture ever since. There's even such a thing called sakura-zensen, which literally means cherry blossom front that is announced every year by the Japan Meteorological Agency to inform people when the cherry blossoms will be in full bloom in their area because cherry blossom are usually in full bloom for only 2 weeks.
The importance of cherry blossom to Japanese culture can be easily seen from the fact that it's represented on 100 yen coins. The reason why I believe most Japanese are attracted to cherry blossom is because this flower represents the Japanese mentality. The fact that it endures all year for a short but extremely beautiful life, follwed by an even more beautiful death when the petals fall, represents the core value that many Japanese people have held since the days of the samurai. This is probably the reason why cherry blossoms are used in songs, painting, poems, and many other art forms in Japan.
-Popular Cherry Blossom Viewing Locations-
Here are a few great locations to view cherry blossoms.
Right along the Shukugawa River is a famous area for cherry blossom viewing . It's one of the most popular places for a hanami, so it could get very busy especially on the weekends. There is a path along the river so you won't have trouble taking a walk and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Located right next to the station, it is also very convenient.
|Access:||Start from Hankyu Line Shukugawa Station and walk south along the river.
JR Sakura Shukugawa Station and Hanshin Line Koroen Station are also close to the river.
Tarumi, located in Yabu city, is famous for the oldest, largest cherry blossom tree in the prefecture. Also known as sennen-sakura, which means millenium cherry blossom. It's located in the park, so having a picnic by this amazing tree is a great way to spend a warm spring afternoon.
|Access:||Catch the bus headed for Oya from JR Yoka Station, and get off at Tarumi.
About a 30 minute walk from the bus stop.
|Address:||Tarumi, Oyamachi Yabu|
Sasayama Castle Ruins
Sasayama Castle was a hirayama style castle built in 1609. Hirayama style castles are typically built on a mountain or hill on a large plain. About a thousand cherry blossoms bloom in the outer moat during spring, making it a popular spot for viewing.
|Access:||Take the Shinki Bus from JR Sasayama-guchi Station and get off at Nikai-Cho Bus Stop (15 minute ride).
A five minute walk from the bus stop.
|Address:||2-3 Kitashin-Machi, Sasayama|
|Inquiries:||Sasayama Castle Remains/ Dai-Shoin 079-552-4500|