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|Written by Jason Boa|
|Thursday, 07 February 2008 07:00|
Hanami is an anual event held across Japan. In modern-day Japan, hanami mostly consists of having an outdoor party under the sakura tree during daytime or at night. Hanami at night is called yozakura (lit. "night sakura"). In many places such as Ueno Park temporary paper lanterns are hung for the purpose of yozakura. It is most popular when the flowers are falling from the tree. In the more polpular viewing areas in Tokyo, and other large cities you must mark the place you want to view the cherry blossoms well in advance.
The practice of hanami s centuries old. The custom is said to have started during the Nara Period (710?784) when the Chinese Tang Dynasty influenced Japan in many ways; one of which was the custom of enjoying flowers. Though it was ume blossoms that people admired in the beginning, by the Heian Period, sakura came to attract more attention.
In more than half of Japan, the cherry blossoming period coincides with the beginning of the scholastic and fiscal years, and so welcoming parties are often opened with hanami.
Today, people continue with the tradition of Hanami, gathering in great numbers wherever the flowering trees are found. Thousands of people fill the parks to hold feasts under the flowering trees, and sometimes these parties go on until late at night.
Everyone usualy drinks sake or beer, while eating bento and snacks. The idea is just to enjoy watching the cherry blossoms in the company of friends.