Sakura or “cherry blossom” is one of the most well-known things from Japan. I was lucky enough to see the mesmerising beauty of blossoming cherry trees and to take part in the Hanami-flower festival this year.
Each year in spring, when the temperature and the weather are finally right, there are just a few days in which the beautiful little pink flowers on the Japanese cherry trees are in bloom. When this happens, it marks the true beginning of spring and a taste of the new, fresh season that’s finally arrived.
For most Japanese, this is an event to go out and take in the beauty of the blossoming cherry trees, sit below them and picknick with family and friends. It is a highly anticipated time, which is announced beforehand in weather announcements and newspapers. While many other countries also have a climate where trees blossom in eye-candy fashion, Japan still seems to stand out with their whole culture living up to that yearly moment.
Despite not having been to Japan, I took part in (o)hanami this year! For that, I went to the largest Japanese garden in Europe, namely the Japanese garden in Hasselt, Belgium. Hasselt is a Belgian city which has a sister city in Japan, Itami. The garden is truly made by Japanese design and is complete with a small river, waterfalls, bridges, a Japanese-style freestanding house and even Koi.
The weather was perfect, there were many people who really took the time to sit down, relax and picknick with friends and strangers alike. There was a collaborative sakura-project, where anyone could paint their own cherry blossom flowers on a giant canvas, which by the end of the day had become like a somewhat minimalistic painting of a cherry tree. Visitors could receive Japanese green tea for free, but only after they folded no less than eight origami birds by themselves! Which is of course exactly what I did.