Hanami is hands down one of my favorite Japanese traditions. For those who don't know, hanami is a flower viewing party. Every spring when the Sakura (cherry) trees bloom, Japanese people gather in huge numbers at parks to have picnics and all-day parties underneath the flowers. Last year I went to three different hanami and had a blast despite the sometimes cold/rainy weather.
This year because of the Tohoku Earthquake, it seemed like there might not be any hanami. In fact, the Japanese government has even been encouraging people in Tokyo and other cities to refrain from having hanami, in order to be conservative and show support for Tohoku. I personally feel like hanami is something we all need right now; especially for the people in Tohoku for whom the past month and a half has been so difficult, something fun and relaxing like hanami would really help to cheer everyone up. Not to mention stimulating the currently dismal economy here.
I got together with my friends Mutsumi and Kimie today for lunch. Our original plan was to go out to eat at a hamburger place in Natori, the neighboring town. But when we got there it was so crowded we could only get bento. Since the weather was so fantastic today, we decided it was a good opportunity for hanami.
|Mm, hamburger bentos!|
After that we discovered a big park nearby called Raijin-yama. It's the site of a 1,000 year old burial ground; in the center of the park are two large hills where some now forgotten lord was buried. The cherry trees all around the hills were so beautiful, and there were a number of families out having hanami picnics as well.
|The big burial ground in the center of Raijin-yama park, Natori.|