In my previous post I only just mentioned the most famous happening of the Japanese spring: the sakura or cherry blossoming which attracts both natives and visitors from January to May. It is a wonderful memento of the cycle of nature and as such, it really deserves more attention. I gathered some information on the sakura and while doing it, I started to feel like visiting Japan for some hanami!

 

…but where exactly shall I go?

That is a good question. Cherry blossoms require mild weather to burst into bloom. Geographically speaking, the first island to see the flowers is Okinawa, the most Southern, which has subtropical climate; here, it can happen as early as January. The sakura reaches Hokkaido, the most Northern island, in May, while it is worth booking our flight tickets to Tokyo or Kioto for the beginning of April if we don’t want to miss the abundance of pink flowers. The Japanese Meteorological Agency creates a cherry blossom forecast every year, so that we know where to expect the most flowers. Japanese precision at its best!

 

…What are we celebrating anyway?

The tradition of hanami or “flower viewing” dates back to the Nara period (710-794 AD), when Japan and China had a flourishing economic relationship. This led to cultural exchange as well; flower viewing was originally the celebration of peach blossoms by the Chinese elite, imported to Japan as hanami, the pleasure of looking at cherry flowers. Hanami is a salute to the eternal cycle of life and its transient nature. Viewing the short-lived flowers may help us focus on what’s really important: the pleasure of beautiful moments spent with those that are close to us.

Fine, but what are we going to eat?

First and foremost: festival food! Now is the time to tuck in dango-dumplings made from sweet rice flour-, cherry blossom biscuits or the old favourite: mochi, this time filled with sweet red bean puree. These are sold in the cherry tree parks along with all sorts of matsuri (festival) food. The point of the hanami is to look at the flowers from up close; the Japanese like to celebrate under the trees, eating, drinking and talking with their friends and family. Those who take food more seriously usually take their bento box to the park, packed with sushi; futomaki is a popular choice!

However disappointing it may be, I don’t think we will be able to travel to Japan this spring. Good news is that cherry trees do blossom in Budapest too, and if we feel like having fabulous Japanese food, we can always book a table in Sushi Sei , where superb food is made and served with the highest of expertise and in beautiful surroundings. Sushi Sei is also the best choice for family gatherings, incentives or business meetings as well! If you feel like having your meal at home, order online: we deliver!