This concept of Hanami came into vogue long back in the Heian period when Sakura trees were planted in Japan for their beauty and grandeur, especially in Kyoto, the then capital of Japan. It was originally limited to the 'elite' of the imperial court but soon spread to include the common people as well.
Sakura starts to bloom in the end of March in the south and steadily moves upwards throughout the month. The blossom forecast is announced every year by the weather bureau and is watched carefully by those who are planning "Hanami". Hanami parties are held in the mornings and even at the night. The "night Sakura" or yozakura is also very beautiful and enjoyed and celebrated by many.
I remember my first Hanami party from almost a decade ago when all my colleagues from the company I was working as a trainee got together in "Hachimanyama", a park full of Sakura trees, in Utsonomiya. We reached the park around noon and it was full of people. In fact it took us some time to locate a tree under which we could sit.
I can never forget how beautiful the park looked that day .The mood was just amazing. I had never seen my so called "workaholic" colleagues so relaxed till then and it was good to see them finally talking about something other than work :) . We stayed there till midnight (that was one long picnic ;)) and enjoyed the Yozakura, sang songs, listened to music and chit chatted the whole day long. (some energy)
Since then I have been to many Hanami parties and surprisingly, I feel almost the same enthusiasm and excitement as I felt the very first time. Sakura never fails to uplift my mood even after all these years.
Note: Sakura is seen by the Japanese as a metaphor for life itself, beautiful but lasting only for a short time. Many poems and songs have been written on Sakura and this "temporary" view of life. There is one very old and a famous poem which reads- " 散りぬべき 時知りてこそ 世の中の 花も花なれ 人も人なれ" . It basically means, that Human beings, like flowers, are beautiful because they have a short life span and eventually die. (Nobody would value flowers so much if they were never to wilt and die)
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