Celebrating Hanami with Cherry Blossom Vocabulary

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The Cherry Blossom season is one of the most exquisite in Japan and we want to help you with some Cherry Blossom Vocabulary. The Japanese see this as a time to welcome in the warmer months of spring and beautiful pink flowers that sprout with it. Furthermore, they also see it as a time to gather with existing families, friends and colleagues. Specifically, to boost existing relationships, but also to form new ones.

It is funny then, that the Japanese decide to end their fiscal year in March and begin again in April. Seemingly, it is like the end of March is farewell to the cool weather as it finally disappears. Thus, the beginning of April is a new beginning of sorts that arrive with the blooming of the cherry trees, yet I digress.

To help boost your enjoyment of the Cherry Blossom season, here are some useful Japanese words and phrases. Hopefully, it will help to increase your appreciation of the season and welcome in the coming of spring.

If you’re interested in our FAQs Section, you can check our page on Life in Japan or our dedicated Exploring Japan post.

Spring is in Session

春 (はる or Haru) meaning spring in Japanese. It is the time to say sayonara to the cooler weather and konnichiha to the warmer months.

桜 (さくら or Sakura) directly means Cherry Blossoms in Japanese. These are the beautiful white, pale pink and deep pink flowers people love to see and sit under during spring. The typically sprout around late March to early April in most areas, with cooler areas blooming in later April.

梅 (うめ or Ume) are the lesser common Plum Blossoms. They tend to be rarer than general Cherry Blossoms, and they also sprout earlier too. Their petals are generally darker shades of pink and purples too to help distinguish them further.

梅見 (うめみ or Umemi) meaning to watch the Plum Blossoms. This is more of an ancient form of Hanami, which was enjoyed by elder people. Perhaps, a lot calmer than the parties of today.

桜前線 (さくらぜんせん or Sakura-zensen) is the Cherry Blossom Forecast that occurs at the beginning of each year. They provide an accurate estimate of when the first Sakura will start to sprout, and also when they will reach full bloom. Similar to the forecast below.

花見 (はなみ or Hanami) can be translated as the event of watching the flowers. In this case, the Cherry Blossoms blooming in all their gorgeous display of pinks and whites. If we break the characters down 花 (はな or Hana) means flower, and 見 (み or Mi) means to view or watch. So, literally to watch the flowers.

観桜 (かんおう or Kanou) has almost the same meaning as ‘Hanami’, except that it is used in the context of Cherry Blossom related festivals.

夜桜 (よざくら or Yozakura) is literally evening Cherry Blossoms. This is a tradition that is celebrated with lanterns throughout many popular sights like Ueno Park or Meguro River. Moreover, it also a term used for the illumination of the cherry trees, to really highlight their beauty at night too.

Other Spring Related Words

屋台 (やたい or Yatai) means food stall or stand. These are common sight especially at the popular Cherry Blossom festivals, illumination spots and common viewing spots. They will generally be in rows offering a variety of different street foods, drinks and alcohol.

花粉症 (かふんしょう or kafunshou) means hayfever or pollen allergy. Perhaps, the only thing bad about this time of spring and for the Japanese people is the amount that suffers from this inflammation. This is usually the time of the year where masks are out in force. The reason is due to the amount of sniffing, coughing, sneezing and everything else caused by the pollen.

Feel free to check out our Top 10 Cherry Blossom Spot guides too. You can explore Japan’s capital of Tokyo or Traditional Capital of Kyoto.

If you’re planning your travels in Japan, we invite you to join our rapidly expanding Travel in Japan Discussion Group via facebook.

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