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Components

Point of interest: 花見(はなみ)

花見(はなみ) - Hanami - cherry blossom viewing
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The cherry blossom, the flower of the Japanese cherry tree (
さくら
, sakura) is one of the most iconic images of Japan, and the annual tradition of hanami (
はなみ
花見
, literally 'flower viewing') is one of the most enjoyable customs of a nation overflowing with enjoyable customs!
Each year the cherry blossom viewing season in Japan lasts a few weeks from late March to early May. The exact timing of course depends on the weather, and predicting the start is a pastime in its own right - the forecast, known as the
さくらぜんせん
桜前線
(sakura-zensen, the 'cherry blossom front'), is provided by the weather bureau. The blooms sweep from south to north through the country, lasting only a few days in each location.
Since the blossoms are so ephemeral, the idea is that they represent the fleeting nature of life itself. Appreciating them in this way is a tradition that goes back at least 1200 years according to historical records, and possibly much longer. One of Japan's most famous books,
げんじ
源氏
ものがた
物語
り (The Tale of Genji)[1], by Murasaki Shikibu, often considered the world's first novel (it was written around the year 1000), spends a whole chapter describing a cherry blossom viewing festival.
While the trees in local parks are in bloom, blankets are spread out often early in the morning to reserve choice locations, and paper lanterns are hung to add to the atmosphere. By evening the grounds are full of groups enjoying the moment, as well as the typical drinks and foods for viewing parties, which include
はなみべんと
花見弁当
(hanami bento - boxed collections of little dishes, including spring vegetables cut into flower shapes), as well as
はなみだんご
花見団子
(hanami dango - multicolored collections of miniature dumplings on skewers).
Although there are cherry trees throughout Japan, some regions are well known for their splendor, often because of the sheer number of blooming trees. One well-known spot is the area around
かわぐちこ
川口湖
(Lake Kawaguchi), one of the five lakes at the foot of
ふじさん
富士山
(Mount Fuji, Japan's tallest and most iconic mountain). From some sites it is possible to see the cherry blossoms, Mount Fuji, and the famous
さか
ふじ
富士
- the sakasa fuji[2], an inverted image of Mount Fuji in the calm waters of the lake, which adorns countless postcards and walls around Japan and the world.
For those who miss the short cherry blossom viewing window, there may be
うめ
(ume, plum) or even
もも
(momo, peach) viewing opportunities, which are typically a little later and a little quieter than the cherry-blossom parties, so they tend to be more popular with older generations.
In fact, the timing of cherry blossom season is gradually shifting. Historically most Japanese cherry trees were yoshino hybrids, a type of hybrid thought to have originated in Japan around 100 years ago, but as these trees die out, especially in parks, they are being replaced with other varieties (for various reasons - some varieties bloom for longer periods, or earlier or later etc, or are easier to maintain). Separately, it appears that climate change is affecting the timing, as a study by two scientists from Osaka Prefecture University has shown.[3]
If you are ready for a challenge, a famous short story about the cherry blossom festival,
さくら
した
には (Under the cherry trees) [4], by
かじい
梶井基
もとじろう
次郎
(Motojirō Kajii) is a worthy contender. It contains several non-Jōyō kanji, but at only 50 sentences it's a much quicker read than the Tale of Genji (which in English translation is only 3% shorter than Tolstoy's War and Peace!).

Words used in this point of interest

noun
1. cherry tree; cherry blossom
2. decoy; fake buyer; shill  (also 偽客)
(click the word to view an additional 2 meanings and 3 forms, examples and links)
3
2
TEST
cherry blossom viewing; flower viewing
(click the word for examples and links)
4
3
TEST
noun
cherry blossom front
(click the word for examples and links)
TEST
noun
bento; Japanese box lunch  (see also: お弁当)
(click the word to view an additional 4 forms, examples and links)
3
2
TEST
noun
1. dango; dumpling (usu. sweet); doughboy
2. ball-shaped object; something round
(click the word to view an additional 1 meaning, examples and links)
6
TEST
noun
1. Japanese apricot (Prunus mume); Chinese plum
2. lowest (of a three-tier ranking system)
(click the word to view an additional 1 reading and 3 forms, examples and links)
3
3
TEST
noun
peach (Prunus persica)
(click the word to view an additional 2 forms, examples and links)
4
TEST
noun
1. tree; shrub; bush
2. wood; timber
(click the word to view an additional 1 form, examples and links)
1
TEST

Kanji used in this point of interest

オウ   さくら cherry tree   
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5
カ   はな flower   
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2
ケン   み to see   みえる to be seen; to appear   みせる to show   
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1
ゼン   まえ before   
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1
セン   line
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4
ゲン   みなもと source, origin   
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5
シ    family; Mr / Mrs   うじ family name   
5
ブツ   モツ   もの thing   
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2
ゴ   かた to talk, relate   かたらう to talk together, chat   
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1
ベン    dialect, speech; distinguish, discriminate   
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5
トウ   あてる    あたる to hit   
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3
ダン   トン    group   
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4
シ   ス   こ child   
1
セン   かわ river   
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1
コウ   ク   くち mouth   
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2
コ   みずうみ lake   
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4
フ   フウ   とみ wealth   と to grow / be wealthy   
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3
シ   samurai
5
サン   やま mountain   
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1
ギャク    reverse, converse   さからう to go against, to oppose   さか upside down   
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4
バイ   うめ plum tree   
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5
トウ   もも peach tree   
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5
ジュ    timber trees   
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5
カ   ゲ   した below, under   しも bottom part   もと under (influence)   さげる to lower, to reduce   さがる to be lowered   くだ to descend   くだ to judge   くださる to give   おろす to drop off (passenger)   おりる to get off (train)   
1
かじ rudder   
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セイ   ショウ   い a well   
5
キ   もと foundation, basis   もとい cause   
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5
ジ   シ   つぎ next   つ to come after   
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3
ロウ    husband, man   
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5
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