Hanami as we know it today was not the same before the Heian period (794-1185). Traditionally the protagonists of flower blossom viewing in Japan were plum blossoms and not sakura.
Sakura became more popular during the Heian period and they became so loved that in all the poems of the period and also after the word “flower” actually was referred not to general flowers but in particular to sakura. Sakura had become the emblem of all flowers.
Hanami is not only about writing poems, admire flowers and walk under trees overwhelmed in pink and white. Hanami is most of all about getting together, eating, drinking (often too much) and having fun. During the cherry blossom season company employees, families, schools, friends and university club members get together. Groups usually have a picnic, chat, do karaoke and spend some good time together, it is basically a good excuse to have fun.
As the Japanese proverb says Hana yori Dango, sweets over flowers, roughly meaning that it is better to eat than just to look at flowers, don’t you agree?
Now let’s have a look at some essential Japanese words to use during Hanami!
1. 花見 – Hanami
The word 花見（はなみ) is composed by the kanji of flower 花and the kanji of the verb to see 見.
2. 桜 – Sakura
Cherry blossoms 桜 (さくら) are the absolute protagonists of Hanami
3. ブルーシート – Buruu sheeto
The traditional picnic blanket in Japan is a blue plastic mat that Hanami diehards spread even before dawn to hold the perfect spot.
4. 花見団子 – Hanami Dango
花見団子 (はなみだんご) are sweet bites made with rice flour, usually they are put on a skewer and they are of three colors, natural white, green and pink.
5. 夜桜 – Yozakura
Hanami party never ends. When the sun goes down it is time for 夜桜 (よざくら) night viewing of cherry blossoms. The word is made by the kanji night 夜 and sakura 桜. Often parks organise special lighting during Hanami evenings.
6. 満開 – Mankai
The most awaited event 満開 (まんかい). Mankai is the moment of full bloom and usually lasts about one week depending on the type of sakura tree.
7. 開花予想- Kaikayosou
Japanese people are passionate about weather forecast, well it is not only about the weather, it is about sakura too. 開花予想 (かいかよそう) is a specific word that means forecast of flowering time.
8. 桜前線 – Sakura Zensen
Sakura bloom very early in the southern islands of Okinawa Prefecture and the 桜前線 (さくらぜんせん) cherry blossom front slowly moves towards Hokkaido in the north.
9. お弁当 – Bento
There cannot be Hanami without お弁当 (おべんと) bento, the beautiful Japanese packed lunch neatly arranged in a box!
10. 花吹雪 – Hanafubuki
Sakura flowers are a metaphor of human life which is rich and beautiful but also delicate and fleeting. This concept of ephemeral beauty is perfectly represented during 花吹雪 (はなふぶき) the snow of flowers when sakura fall creating a pink and white snow of petals.