Hanami (“flower viewing”) is the traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers. This often involves a picnic party to enjoy the cherry blossoms as well as food and drinks. People have a Hanami party with friends, family or colleagues under cherry trees and have fun. It seems the dazzling cherry blossoms in full bloom make many people get higher than usual.  From the end of March to early May, cherry trees bloom all over Japan.

This is pretty serious business for the Japanese people, and the blossom forecast “sakura-zensen” or “cherry blossom front” is announced each year by the weather bureau, and is watched carefully by those planning their hanami party as the blossoms only last a week or two. Hanami at night is called “Yozakura” or “night sakura”.  Around Kyoto, in many places such as Maruyama Koen, around Arashiyama or in the park next to Hirano Jinja, temporary paper lanterns are hung for the purpose of “Yozakura”, and numerous shops are set to provide food and beverages. 

I have never had any problems taking photos of these scenes and the people enjoying their party.  Sure, I do ask as I speak Japanese, but the general mood is fun and happiness, and we always end up sharing a drink and laughing together.  I love it! It’s during these Hanami parties that the Japanese people reveal their true nature, which is not always as serious as the salarymen in their suit often show.

Beautiful image showing the joy of Sakura time, my favourite image to include people, very well framed, composed and sharp despite the obvious challenge….. Great image showing the importance of the time and Japanese people being together and eating, talking, socialising. I like the depth of field and the activity in the background drawing your eye into the distance. The people are the focus and the flags, lights, trees, etc. surround the vision……

Reviewed by Simon Hadleigh-Sparks