Hanami means “flower viewing” in Japanese and it is a time to honor the tradition of welcoming spring under the cherry blossom (Sakura). It was the emperor’s habit of a picnic under beautiful trees to celebrate the start of rice cultivating season. Rice remains a major food for most of families throughout Asia and although rice can be grown practically anywhere, Asian rice represents 87% of total world rice production.
Nowadays, the emperor is not seen under the trees in Tokyo, but majority of the population is there - or at least that how it looks to me watching the crowd enjoying beer, food and sake under the trees with friends and families.
The cherry blossom is a symbol of Japan and cherries were planted in their new colonies to represent their influence. The hanami or cherry blossom festival is also exported throughout the world.
It was a certain Mrs. Scidmore’s idea to bring this plant to USA which she pursued for over 20 years until finally 1912, city of Tokyo presented a gift of 3020 cherry trees to be planted along the Tidal Basin of Potomac Park in Washington DC.
However, the capital of cherry blossom festival of the world is perhaps surprisingly a small town in Georgia, USA – Macon with over 300,000 cherry trees.
In Japan, millions of visitors admire cherry blossom every year, usually mid-April. The premises of Japan Mint in Osaka along the Yodo Riverside Lane is about 560m long with 350 trees and 130 varieties and opens to public for one week of the festival (Sakura-no-toorinuke) and here it is how many people come:
There are many varieties of the cherries and every year the leading one is different. Unfortunately, these cherries are bred to be ornamental and although they produce small fruit, they are too sour for people to eat, but birds and other animals like it. So, something for everyone! Cheers and happy spring!