Annual Events in Japan

April: Ohanami

The Ohanami season is here!

The Ohanami (cherry blossom viewing) season which we've been waiting for has finally arrived. In Japan, the cherry blossoms bloom from March until April across the country. In every area of Japan people go out to see the cherry blossoms. You can see just how much Ohanami means to Japanese people from the special reports seen in magazines and on television. Ohanami is a true part of Japanese culture.
When did Ohanami begin in Japan? It is believed that the history of Ohanami dates back to the Heian period, when it was part of the culture of the upper classes. However, by the Edo period, cherry blossom viewing had spread to all areas of Japan and become a pastime for the common people. Ohanami was originally a religious ceremony associated with agriculture. 'Cherry blossom' in Japanese is 'sakura.' The 'sa' of sakura signified the god of the rice fields and the 'kura' referred to the place where the god resides. The modern version of Ohanami, where people eat, drink, and sing beneath the cherry trees, wasn't established until around the Edo period. Ueno was famous for cherry blossoms in Edo, now called Tokyo. Asukayama and Sumidagawa are famous Ohanami spots in Tokyo. However, there are many wonderful places for cherry blossom viewing located throughout Japan. By all means, sit beneath a cherry tree and feel for yourself the coming of spring and the beauty of nature.