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Published on 04.28.2016
Hanami literally means flower viewing, flower here meaning cherry blossom. The tradition of admiring cherry blossom has a long history. In ancient times, it was aristocrats who enjoyed Hanami parties, however, by the Edo period, the Hanami tradition had spread among the general public.
Friends, family or work colleagues gather to have a Hanami party and enjoy the transient beauty of the cherry blossom, and obviously food and drink as well. It’s a casual fun party, however there are certain rules for everyone to enjoy.
Things not to do at Hanami
1. Don’t break cherry blossom branches or shake them to snow down their petals. Hanami is all about admiring the natural phenomenon, which is the theory of the Shinto religion. Such actions are guaranteed to be frowned upon. Moreover, cherry trees tend to rot from a cut surface. Just breaking one little branch might kill the whole tree.
2. Don’t stand or sit on the roots of cherry trees. Cherry trees have absorptive roots close to the surface, therefore they don’t like pressure on their roots as this can weaken them. Please avoid sitting or standing on their roots.
3. Don’t bother local neighbours. It’s a party and after a couple of drinks your voice naturally becomes louder, however please consider the local neighbours, especially during night time.
4. Don’t take up more space than you need. Many Hanami spots get very crowded and the race of taking a space is fierce. Please only take up just enough space for your party in order for more people to be able to enjoy Hanami.
5. Don’t leave rubbish. Some parks prepare rubbish bins, however they fill up very quickly. Some places don’t have bins at all. Please bring plastic bags and take your rubbish with you.
6. Don’t barbecue. Generally speaking, barbecues are prohibited in most Hanami spots. Check if you want to have a barbecue party. For example, Kasai Rinkai park (Edogawa), Showa Kinen park (Tachikawa) and Mizumoto park (Katsushika) allow you to barbecue. You can rent everything you need for barbecues and even buy food there.
Other useful information
1. Be there in early morning. If you want to have a good place in a popular Hanami spots, the only way is to be there early. Bring your picnic sheet and spread it over your desired place. Sometimes an unmanned sheet may be removed. It’s a common practice to place someone on the sheet until the party starts.
2. Prepare for the cold. It’s still not warm enough to sit down outside for a long time during Hanami season. Bring a jacket or a blanket with you. If you are planning a night viewing, bringing disposable body warmers is a good idea.