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Hanami: Picnic Under the Sakura

Hanami: Picnic Under the Sakura

Cherry blossoms are a symbol of springtime throughout Japan. From late March through May, the hearts of the people of Japan are filled with joy at the coming of spring as the pink cherry blossoms begin to bloom. If you visit during this period, you will see countless people in many different locations in Japan enjoying picnics under the blossoming cherry trees, in a practice called “Hanami.” Hanami is the practice of eating and drinking to welcome the arrival of spring and enjoy the warm spring weather anywhere the gently falling cherry blossoms can be found, such as parks or by the river side. Why not experience this traditional Japanese Hanami yourself surrounded in the indescribably beautiful spring scenery?

The culture of Hanami is specific to Japan with its four seasons, and has a history of over 1,000 years. The aristocracy of the middle ages gave rise to a culture of creating Japanese waka poems based on the theme of cherry blossoms, and this practice was gradually adopted by the general public over the passing of time, resulting in the practice today of picnicking under the cherry trees.


Cherry blossoms bloom but for a brief moment out of the year, and the purpose of Hanami is thus to enjoy this short time as much as possible to welcome the arrival of spring. Further, the cherry blossoms bloom at a time when the air grows warmer and there is little rain, making it pleasant to spend time outdoors.

There are even food stalls at popular Hanami locations where celebrants can purchase sweets, drinks, and snacks. This adds to the appeal of the activity, allowing you to take in the blossoms after purchasing your favorite food and drink.

The word Hanami-zake, a portmanteau of Hanami and Japanese sake, demonstrates the inseparable relationship between Hanami and the favored Japanese rice wine. Sipping sake while enjoying the gentle spring sunlight and the ephemeral beauty of the rows of cherry trees puts one in an otherworldly state of mind. Even if you prefer not to try the sake, you can still enjoy that sense as you eat a delicious boxed lunch under the cherry blossoms as they dance in the wind.

Incidentally, daytime picnics are not the only way to enjoy Hanami. After sunset, the cherry trees are typically lit up, creating a more fantastical atmosphere different again from the daytime mood.

Hanami Tips & Manners

Temperatures still fall sharply at night even though spring has arrived, so don't forget to prepare for the cold. While some Hanami locations feature chairs and tables, we recommend that you bring everything you need for a picnic instead. It is also important to adhere to certain manners in order to properly enjoy Hanami. Specifically, cherry trees have a very short lifespan. Though the flowers are beautiful, snapping off branches to take home with you is strictly forbidden. Also, show your gratitude to the cherry trees and their beautiful blossoms by taking your trash home with you or disposing of it in designated locations.

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    Modern Samurai Horsemanship in Minamisoma City

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View Directions By Train: From Tokyo Station: Approx. 3 hours 30 min. by JR Hitachi 26 Limited Express Shinagawa to Haranomachi Sta. in Minamisoma City; or 3 hours 30 min. by shinkansen and JR train (shinkansen from Tokyo Sta. to Sendai Sta. and JR Joban line from Sendai Sta. to Haranomachi Sta.). You can find more information about access to Minamisoma here. If you’d like to know more about Minamisoma, please refer to the city’s English homepage. If you are visiting by train, we recommend renting a car at Haranomachi Sta. to get around the city, as many of the locations listed above are not easily accessed by public transportation.

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  2. Destination Spotlight

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    Following Fukushima’s Footpath: Miyakoji Area in Tamura City
  3. Destination Spotlight

    Enjoying Mt. Adatara in Autumn

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Adatara Rope-way is incredibly scenic, regardless of the time of year. Price: 1,050 yen one-way. 1,750 yen return.* Opening hours: The rope-way tends to be open from late April to early November. Please make sure to make a note of the last return rope-way trip when you visit, to make sure you don't get stranded at the viewpoint! *Correct as of June 2020 When you get off the rope-way, it is a short walk to Yakushi Dake Peak, which is a very popular photo spot. Many people come here just to take photos, then go back down the rope-way and go have their lunch or dip in an onsen! I’ve done this before actually, but this time we wanted to do the full basic hike. We happened to plan our trip to Mt Adatara on a very, very cloudy day – which was unfortunate! But you can tell just how bright the colours of the leaves on the mountain were from the photo below.   MISTY HIKE TO THE TOP OF MT. ADATARA It turns out I didn’t need to worry about getting lost – the route to the top was well signposted – albeit just in Japanese. TRAVEL TIP Make sure you know the kanji words for the places you want to go before you set off on your hike! 安達太良山頂 – Peak of Mt. Adatara (adatara sancho), 奥岳 – Oku Dake (where the hike begins) I was pretty disappointed that, despite being able to see the leaves from the bottom of the rope-way, after departing from the Yakushi Dake view spot, the mist got more and more intense. Check out the amazing views I got from the peak of the mountain! AUTUMN COLOURS SHINING THROUGH Luckily, the weather began to take a turn for the better on the way to our next destination – Kurogane-goya Mountain Lodge. Going from being able to see nothing but white, to being surrounded by colour was a very odd experience! It was a little frustrating, as I realized I could have been seeing amazing sights for the last hour. However, I was so happy to get to enjoy the fantastic views that I soon forgot about my woes. Soon we were able to see our lunch stop, the mountain lodge, off in the distance. It’s the lone building in the photo below. LUNCH AT KUROGANE-GOYA Kurogane-goya Mountain Lodge acts as a rest stop for hikers passing through, as well as being a place to stay the night for those going on longer hikes. The inside decor of the Kurogane-goya Mountain Lodge is nearly completely made of wood. The vintage style lamps and wood stove burner give it a very homey and welcoming feel. I would love to stay here in winter, all warm and comfortable by the fire, despite the heavy snow outside. One thing that is quite well-known about Kurogane-goya is the delicious curry they serve to customers who stay overnight! Even though we didn’t stay overnight on this occasion, we got to sample the curry since we were visiting for a photo shoot. It did not disappoint! 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    Enjoying Mt. Adatara in Autumn
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