The Hanami How-to

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Picking a Spot

You can hold your hanami anywhere you choose, but if you’re planning on going to a well-known spot, plan to go early.
The prime spots are often taken very early in the morning, and in some cases, the night before! It’s best to ask a friend who doesn’t mind some quiet, early morning meditation under the cherry trees to take your blue tarp and claim a space well before your party.
As for where to go, it’s best to ask a local for their advice -- everyone has a different opinion -- or keep an eye out as you explore the city.

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Equipment

Every cherry blossom viewing party requires a tarp to sit on. Usually bright blue, these large tarps can be purchased at any home supply store, and usually in convenience stores and supermarkets, too.
As you get your tarp spread out and prepare for your hanami, look out for rocks or other heavy objects that you can use the keep your tarp guarded against the wind.
Most importantly, be sure to bring plastic bags to store all of your garbage and recycling, and make sure nothing is left behind when you’re finished. 

 

Food & Beverage

Hanami picnics are pretty lively parties, so it’s not unusual for there to be lots of food and drink. For a more traditional feel, bring some Japanese sake (locally known as nihon-shu), and a bento box -- you can find the best ones in the basements of department stores.
For dessert, try dango, sweet dumplings on a stick. However, you’re free to bring anything, so if you’re joining locals, don’t be surprised to find potato chips and beer!



 

Things to Watch Out For

Depending on the area, some of the local wildlife, such as hawks, crows, squirrels, and deer, are not very shy, and can sometimes be a little aggressive.
Keep a very close eye on your food and clean up any large crumbs quickly. Parks and rivers that are popular for hanami picnics and other activities also have rules that vary place to place; some spots don’t allow barbecuing, while others ban alcohol!
Keep an eye out for posted signs or check on the internet before you go.

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Extra Tips


While some public places will have bathrooms, not all of them will provide toilet paper, so stash a few tissues in your pocket before you go. Any convenience store is also happy to offer its bathroom free of charge; there’s no obligation to buy anything to use it.
The Japanese custom of removing your shoes still applies with your clean, new tarp, so be careful!
Hanami is Japan’s favorite time to kick back and relax. It can be as elaborate or as small as you’d like; even if you can’t find the time to plan a big party, a sip of tea while enjoying the beautiful view can still be your own personal hanami. 

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