5 rules for a successful hanami   お花見をしましょう

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The Ohanami is a special time of the Japanese calendar.

The Ohanami is a special time of the Japanese calendar.

Hanami is a great time in Japan to relax and unwind.

Hanami is a great time in Japan to relax and unwind.

The hanami picnics are very lively and animated; It is therefore not unusual to have a lot of foods and beverages.

The hanami picnics are very lively and animated; It is therefore not unusual to have a lot of foods and beverages.

Mat cherry blossoms (sakura) after flowering.

A carpet of cherry blossoms petals after falling from the trees.

The Japanese cherry trees, a symbol of the Rising Sun.

The Japanese cherry trees, a symbol of the Rising Sun.

Hanami with friends

A blue tarp, a cooler full of beer, a park and cherry trees: tips for a successful hanami under the sakura.

1. The ideal

You can do hanami anywhere there are cherry blossom trees, but if you choose a busy place, plan to get there early. The best places are often already packed in the morning and sometimes even from late the night before! An ideal thing to do is ask a friend to spread out your blue tarp and claim the space you want, before the celebrations begin, if they don't mind getting there early and having some peace and quiet under the cherry blossoms. About where to go, it is best to seek advice from locals - as everyone has their favorite spot - or keep your eyes open during your travels around the city.

2. Equipment

Each session of contemplation under the cherry blossoms requires a tarp on which to sit. Usually blue, these large sheets can be bought at any shop, supermarket or convenience stores. When you are about to spread your sheet and prepare for your hanami, look around you for stones or heavy objects to put on the tarp to prevent it from blowing away. Most importantly, do not forget plastic bags to put waste in and be sure not to leave anything behind when you're done.

3. Food and drink

The hanami picnics are very lively and animated; It is therefore not unusual to have a lot of food and beverages. If you want to have a more traditional hanami, bring a few bottles of sake (nihon-shu as it's called), and a bento. Find the best in the basements of department stores.
For dessert, try the dango: sweet dumplings on a toothpick. Of course, you are free to bring whatever you want and if you join a group of Japanese people, do not be surprised to find chips and beer.

4. Caution

Hanami is the ideal time in Japan to relax and unwind. It can be as elaborate or simple as you like; and if you do not have time to plan a big party, sipping a cup of tea while contemplating the beautiful view of the cherry blossoms can be your personal hanami. It all depends on the location you have chosen, but watch out for local fauna like hawks, crows, squirrels and deer. Not really timid and sometimes even aggressive, keep an eye on your food and clean up leftovers quickly. The parks and rivers are popular places during the hanami and other activities. Each location has specific rules: some prohibit barbecues and others even banish alcohol! Pay attention to all the signals around and check it out on the Internet before you go.

5. Provide

While many public places have toilets available, some do not provide toilet paper, making it necessary to buy before you go. Some stores are also happy to let you use their toilets for free; there is no obligation to buy anything.

The Japanese custom of removing shoes also applies to your own tarp to keep it clean, so be careful!

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