K-12 Outreach for Japanese Culture: 4月 / April

This guide is designed for K to 12 instructors who teach Japanese culture and traditions.

花見 / Hanami (Flower Blossom Viewing)





From late-March to mid-April, leaves and flowers start to sprout and bloom. In Japan, the season of cherry blossoms start around this time. People enjoy hanging out, eating, drinking and gazing at the cherry blossoms, this act is called hanami.

There are two origin stories of the hanami.
One of the stories involves the nobility during the Nara period (710 - 794). Originally, the aristocrats of the time enjoyed gazing at the plum trees when bloomed. It is believed that the beginning of the tradition of hanami culture began during the Heian period (794 - 1185) when Emperor Saga held a big banquet. And one of the most famous hamami parties called Daigo no hamami, was held in 1598 at the old capital Kyoto, by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of the unifiers of Japan and powerful leader of the time.

There is another story that originated from the farmers. In the spring time, farmers would go on picnic to a hill or a mountain to examine the cherry blossom's conditions. Depending on the health of the blossoms, they would forecast a rich or poor harvest for the season. During the Edo period (1603 - 1868), however, the implication of agricultural rites were lost to the hanami. It was not exclusive to just the nobles anymore, and hanami became something that everyone can enjoy, and still is today.

Cherry blossoms are grown worldwide now, but there are not a lot of countries that traditionally celebrate the hanami like Japan. It is a unique event special to Japan.

花見の風景 / A scene of hanami

夜の花見 / Hanami during the night

Books Related to this Page

花見と和菓子 / Hanami to Wagashi (Flower Viewing and Sweets)

花見 <Hanami>


  • 花より団子


The month of April is considered as the hamami season. People visits parks and have picnics while enjoying the beautiful cherry blossoms and other flowers that might be blossoming. Traditional sweets for hanami are called dango (sweet sticky rice balls) or hamami dango. Also, since it is spring and the blooming season, many sweets are inspired by flowers and leaves. Dango are strongly associated with hanami, there is even a proverb, "hana yori dango."

  • Hana yori Dango?

"Hana yori dango" can be translated into “dumplings over flowers” or "cake before flowers." The meaning of this proverb is that people concentrate more on the practical benefits rather than the beauty of life. Also, it describes a person who are ambivalent to the refinements of life and especially in nature.

桜の和菓子 / Wagashi inspired by the sakura flowers

花見団子 / Hanami dango

花見ビデオ / Video about Hanami

Here is a brief look into the hanami season at Kyoto.