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When was the last time that you gathered all your loved ones for a picnic party? Be it a weekend getaway or a local get-together, picnics are the best approach to spend quality time with your friends and family.
- What is a Japanese picnic party?
- History of Hanami
- Know how to plan a Hanami party
- Essentials to pack
- Critical points to remember
- Be prepared
What is a Japanese picnic party?
The Japanese people have been picnicking for many centuries; the Hanami season being the most popular time. Picnicking under a pink Cherry Blossom Tree in spring (March to mid-April) is known as a Hanami party; the Japanese way of celebrating the transient beauty of nature, along with your friends and family, and loads of food and drinks.
The preferred season is the spring season because the flowers are in their full bloom stage, and if you are in Japan, you will see how beautifully crazy the ambience gets. It is also known as the Cherry Blossom Festival of Japan.
History of Hanami
The word ‘Hanami’ means ‘flower viewing’ or ‘Cherry Blossom viewing’. The practice is many centuries old; formerly common among the Imperial Court in Kyoto; however, now it is popular all around Japan. A few decades ago, Hanami gained fame in the United States and many European countries as well. When Hanami is practiced at night, it is known as Yozakura a.k.a night sakura.
Know the elements of a Hanami party
1. Destination: As already mentioned above, the venue to celebrate the beautiful time of the Hanami season is under the flowering trees. Be it daytime or night-time, it would help if you have pre-booked the venue because more than half of the Japanese citizens and an incredible amount of tourists will be doing the same (i.e. if you don’t pre-book it, then you might not even get space to experience the most popular time in Japan).
- Hanami bento: The Hanami picnic box is known as Hanami bento. It may contain Tamagoyaki, Inarizushi (sushi rice with stuffed tofu pouches), Makizushi (sushi rolls) and Kamaboko (pink and white fish cakes).
- Fried and grilled dishes: Kara-age (boneless, fried chicken), Takoyaki (grilled octopus balls) and Ebi-fry (breaded fried shrimp)
Salads and Tsukemono: Japanese salads and pickled vegetables are known as Tsukemono (i.e. Ohitashi- diced green vegetables dressed in soy sauce, Namasu- daikon radish and carrot pickled in vinegar, potato salad and Gomae- salad in sesame dressing).
- Onigiri: Rice balls, flavoured with salmon & tuna mayonnaise and ume (pickled plum).
- Sunomono: Vinegar-based vegetables, dressed in light rice (Japanese pickles)
- Edamame: Salted soybean pods
- Rei-shabu: Cold, thinly sliced pork, served with citrus dressing
- Tamagoyaki: Rolled omelette, flavoured with Dashi and sugar
- Morokyu: Cold cucumbers, mixed with miso soup
- Sweet treats: Sakura Mochi (rice cake), watermelon, strawberries, orange, kiwi, Anpan (sweet roll), Castella (sponge cake) and Chinsuko (biscuit)
- Red wine
- Miso soup
- Sake and beer
- Chuhai- Japanese cocktail (a blend of shochu, vodka-like alcohol and fruit juice)
- Mugicha- Iced Mugicha (unsweetened, non-caffeinated tea-like drink)
There are several more games that you all can play. So, discuss with your friends and family to pack all the fun games that you can play together and enjoy.
Essentials to Pack
Umbrella and body warmer: The Japanese weather is famous for not being predictable (i.e. you never know when it might rain or get cold). The fact that a Hanami party takes place in an open park makes it crucial for you to carry umbrellas and body warmers for everyone so that you all are prepared for the worst.
Disposable cups, plates and cutlery: Walking in the open ground, enjoying snacks and drinks, and sharing your experience is only possible if you bring disposable cups, plates, and cutlery so that you can eat and drink wherever you want without breaking anything. It is a convenient and cost-effective solution to celebrate a Hanami party.
Garbage bags: Littering is the worst thing that you can do in Japan, so garbage bags are one of the most essential items on the list. The disposable cups, plates, and bottles should be thrown in proper garbage bags to make sure that the beauty of the place remains intact.
Picnic sheet: You can either sit on the ground or carry a picnic sheet to spread it at your place and have a traditional picnic party. If you are not much of a nature-loving person, then it should be at the top of your list.
Food and drinks: All the Hanami themed food and beverages are mentioned above.
Pocket knife or a multi-tool set: Carrying a pocket knife or a multi-tool set will make your picnic more convenient, especially when you need to dice the vegetables, cut-open a packet, or open a bottle of wine. Such a tool does not take much space, but deems essential when the situation arises.
Medicines: It would help if you kept a first-aid kit in your picnic kit because you may fall ill or experience an allergic attack in the park. The severity of the situation does not need any explanation.
Critical Points to Remember
Apart from carrying the right items, it would enhance your experience if you remember and follow the following points dedicatedly:
- Pre-book your venue: The reason for pre-booking the venue is mentioned above; however, it should be the first thing that you do to make sure that you don’t have to wander around or lose the best place in the park by being irresponsible.
- Carry enough food and drinks: There is no need to explain why carrying enough food and drinks is significant at a picnic party. Estimate the correct number of people to make sure that you carry enough food and drinks to fulfill everyone’s needs.
- Make a checklist of the essentials: You should make a list of all the essential items mentioned above to avoid forgetting about something important and effecting your experience entirely.
- Don’t harm the majestic trees: The beauty of Hanami is the flowering trees, so you should not hurt the trees in any way. Don’t swing, pull or push the branches, or pick the blossoms to make sure that the majestic trees stay as beautiful as possible.
- Don’t litter: The Japanese people know how to keep everything neat and clean; however, if you are a tourist during the Hanami season, then you should follow the same principles (i.e. don’t litter in the open grounds). The garbage bags are essential to ensure that it does not happen at any time.
- Follow the rules: Every park has different rules during the Hanami season, be it curfew timings or related to alcoholic beverages and some picnic activities. You should adhere to all of them to avoid affecting your’s or anyone else’s picnic experience.
If it is your first time in Japan during the Hanami season, then be ready to get your mind-blown with natural beauty, fun Japanese citizens and savoury food items because it is one of the most celebrated times in Japan (now, in many other parts of the world as well).
Now that you are aware of everything related to a Hanami picnic part, it would be an amazing experience. So, do plan a weekend during the Hanami months, and experience Japan in its most beautiful form. Apart from admiring the natural beauty, you will also get to spend fantastic moments with your loved ones. A Hanami party is a must!
Plan! Picnic! Enjoy!