Haru, or spring, is time for Sakura and Hanami - Cherry blossoms and Blossom Viewing Parties.
Hana = flower and mi = see.
Yozakura = hanami at night
The custom of Cherry Blossom Viewing has existed since around the 7th century as aristocrats wrote poems and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. During the Feudal period in Japan, the cherry blossom became a symbol of the Samurai and the code they lived by. At the end of the period, the new leadership under Emperor Meiji, ordered the cherry trees to be cut down as he wanted no reminder of the old feudal period. Fortunately, the tradition has returned and is one of the most enjoyable times in Japan.
Cherry trees are said to have started blooming when there are five or six blossoms on sample trees. There are beautiful cherry trees throughout Japan and the blossoms bloom at different times. There are dozens of species of cherry trees in Japan and usually bloom for a very short period of time. Many say that when the wind blows, it looks as if it is showing. Unfortunately this also means the end of the beautiful blossoms as then float to the ground.
During spring, there are many spectacular cherry blossom viewing locations throughout Japan. All About Japan has listed 10 favorite spots. Other favorites include: Ueno or Yoyogi parks in Tokyo; Maruyama Park, Yasaka Shrine and Arashiyama in Kyoto.
Hanami in Japan is celebrated in many ways including picnic-style events where people bring food and drink and enjoy family outings, chatting with friends, sipping sake, writing poems, singing songs. One of the most popular foods is Dango, a chewy snack food made from rice flour.
Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki presented Japanese cherry trees to the Washington, D.C. on
March 27, 1912 as a gesture of the growing friendship between Japan and the United States.