Hanami & Hanabi

A sharing of seasonal events in Japan

By Elena Lisina    - 3 min read

The first time I heard the word ‘hanami’ was from my friend when I visited Japan in early April. The word comes from two Japanese words ‘hana’, meaning ‘flower’ and the ‘mi’ from the word 'miru’ meaning 'to see’. Thus hanami means ‘seeing flowers’, but in fact it has a wider meaning.

Hanami is a celebration of the blooming of the sakura cherry blossom trees marking the awakening of nature after winter and is celebrated all over Japan. Of course, I’d heard of sakura as an important symbol of Japan, but never expected to see such a celebration! Wherever I went, the many blooming trees were a gorgeous sight!

Beneath the trees people picnicked and celebrated with families, friends, and co-workers. In popular spots like Ueno Park, spots beneath the trees are reserved in advance. In other places, you can simply turn up. Food stall festival treats are often available too. I've tried takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and even banana dipped in chocolate. All were cheap and satisfying.

Hanami occurs every year, yet people still take photos of the flowers. It's nice to watch women and girls dressed in beautiful kimonos for photo sessions with the sakura in the background. The parks are full of people and the week-long atmosphere of hanami is festive. Sharing the beauty of sakura, I had a sense of unity with and amongst the Japanese.

When I learnt the word ‘hanabi’, meaning fireworks, I wondered about the similarity between the two words hanami and hanabi. Hanabi is a summer event in Japan with fireworks set off in many places. My most recent visit occurred at the end of July and I had the opportunity to visit the Sumida River Fireworks Festival in Tokyo. Besides both words beginning with 'hana', I immediately understood why hanabi and hanami were similar.

People sitting down on mats on the streets, eating foods and drinks while enjoying the fireworks together... I even saw some groups arranging tables near their homes to also celebrated hanabi. And there was the answer - hanabi is a sharing, the same as hanami! Both events bring people closer together and that, I feel, is precious an worth holding on to.

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Elena Lisina

Elena Lisina @shiroi.tenshi

I love Japan very much! I like small towns of Japan where I can watch people doing their business and talk to them carefully. They're always friendly. I like Japanese gardens where I can just sit or walk and take my time. Also I like Shinto Jinja as being there I feel in peace. I like to watch sunsets and then to dine in some small local places. I like to soak into onsen after a long day of wandering. I like Japanese crafts very much as all items are made with great taste and skill. Nihon wo daisuki desuyo! My photos from Japan I also place here: https://gurushots.com/f10384/photos Matane!