Spring is on its way, and along with it comes hanami season! Hanami (花見）is a Japanese word that consists of the kanji for “flower” (花）and “to view” (見). It is the tradition of viewing flowers in spring time, particularly the Japanese cherry blossom, or sakura (桜). A typical hanami event means going on a picnic under the cherry blossom trees while drinking sake with your friends. The prime flower viewing spots in popular parks are hotly contested, so it is important to get there early in the day!
Hanami season may only last for a short time, typically one to two weeks from start to finish, so enjoy it while it lasts! Usually there is one tree at a particular park that is designated the kijunboku (基準木）which is used to official mark the start and end of hanami season at that location. You can see hanami forecasts both on the weather reports on TV and in the newspapers (see the Japan Meteorological Association Cherry Blossom Report 2015). The Japanese take flower viewing very seriously, and have many words to describe the stage in which cherry blossoms are blooming. The most important is mankai (満開) meaning “full bloom,” but there are also other words, such as kaika (開花）or “first bloom” and zanka (残花）or “remaining bloom.” Cherry blossoms are in full bloom for only a few days, so see them while you can.
Here are some prime cherry blossom viewing places in Fukushima!
This beautiful waterfall cherry blossom tree has been designated a national treasure, and is frequently named as one of the top cherry blossom trees in all of Japan. It’s over 1000 years old, and more than 300,000 people visit it from all over Japan every year! It can’t be missed!
Certainly one of Fukushima’s most impressive castles, it also has over 800 cherry blossom trees on the grounds, making it Aizu’s top hanami location. It’s perfect for picnics with friends, though the spaces fill up quickly during prime cherry blossom season.
Hanamiyama Park is a beautiful place to view many different varieties of cherry blossom! It’s just a short drive from the Bandai-Azuma Skyline which leads to the snow corridor, so you can enjoy both the winter snow and the spring flowers in one day.
See the Fukushima Tourism website for a list of all the hanami locations across the prefecture.