Source: News Bharati English21 Apr 2017 17:49:30

Tokyo, April 21: Japan celebrates an exceptional festival 'hanami' ( Cherry blossom viewing) every year in springtime. While deletion of greenery is a major issue all over the world, Japan is carrying their old annual custom of enjoying bloomed foliage. Every year Cherry blossom starts in 'Okinawa' ( Southern Japan), then gradually it spreads towards Northern Japan ( Hokkaido). Where Okinawa is the lower elevation and Hokkaido is upper elevation geographically. Now it's not only an annual custom but also it's one of those exceptional festivals of the world which attracts a lot of tourist from all over the globe. Traditional Custom of Hanami is to gather in a park or in a mountain and to have a sake-drinking party beneath cherry trees full of color and fragrance.Now a lot of visitors from the different cultures are also joining cherry blossom viewing festival. They join with local folks with beer, sake, and foods and arrange an outdoor picnic. Gathering enjoys the proximity of natural beauty with the sound of music, with the charm of party games. And the party lasts well into the night as the moon illuminates the pink blossoms.The special dishes of the festival are like- Dango, Bento, Sake.

History:

It's a century-old custom, Started at 'Nara Period' (710-794). The seasonal event used to welcome new year's harvest while marking the beginning of rice planting season. That time people used to admire 'ume' blossoms. In 'Hein Period' (794-1185) Emperor Saga started a custom of welcoming this season with celebration and parties under Sakura trees, in Kyoto's imperial court.From this time Sakura attracted a lot than 'ume'. Gradually "sakura' became another synonym for the flower. Even in the poems of that time  (both in waka and haiku) poets wrote 'Sakura' to mean 'flower'.The word Hanami ( Cherry blossom viewing party) was also introduced first in this period. (in a novel of Hein era- A Tale of Genji)

In Hein period this party and celebration were limited to the royal people and elite upper class. But from early 1600's (Edo Period) it spread to the 'Samurai Society' gradually to the common people as well.

Hanami Today:

As we said before Hanami is a charming festival of spring in Japan, Where almost more than half of the population get involved every year.This is an open air celebration for the advent of spring with food, dango, sake, beer, music games etc.Some people also take a long vacation during this time to spent hanami far from his daily place. The celebration of Hanami at night or late night is known as 'yozakura' ( sakura of night). Previously the date of the first blossom and full blossom and end of the season were declared by 'Japan Meteorological Agency, by the time private agencies took the responsibility to declare the date of hanami. People who plan to celebrate hanami as it occurs within a little span of time, one to two weeks. 

Cherry Blossom Viewing Festival Outside Japan:

In 1912 Japan gifted the United States 3000 Sakura trees as a symbol of Nation’s friendship. They were planted in Washinton DC and another 3800 trees were added on 1965. Now during spring “National Cherry Blossom Festival” takes place here.

Georgia is another important name here. This the “ Cherry Blossom Capital of the world”, as there are almost 300,000 cherry trees use to bloom in every year. They celebrate “International Cherry Blossom festival”Except these two there are many countries in Europe and America they celebrate the advent of the spring through cherry tree festival.

 Places to Watch in  Hanami:

Nara: If you want to snap a perfect picture of hanami, do visit in yoshino-yama. It's a mountain in Nara, full of 30,000 blooming trees. It's considered as one of the best viewing spots of Japan. In Osaka there is a tunnel at the  ''Japan Mint", where the visitor will find more than 100 faunal variety of blooming trees.Lastly Ueno Park at Tokyo will give you Lastly, Ueno Park at Tokyo will give you a lovely view when 1200 blossoming cherry trees will burst into happiness.

 Hanami 2017":

This year first bloom started in mid of the January (14th Jan,2017 ideally) and the full bloom occurred in the second week of February.Hanami Started with full gear from Early April of this year. Now hanami is available at hokkaido (Northern Japan) 30th April 2017 is the first bloom date at Sapporo ( a place a hokkaido) Sapporo is the last date of Hanami, before that Matsumae (April 29), Hakodate( April 30), Akita (April 24) these are the places where you can get your heart full with natural colour fragrance and energy.