There are many ways to enjoy the so long awaited sunny days of spring and the beautiful awakening of nature. But Japan once again is leading in the most long-standing and highly organized traditions for appreciation of spring and country´s stunning nature. In fact, the tradition of cherry blossoms (sakura) viewing, usually with a nice picnic called hanami 花見, became the most famous and widely known outside of Japan due to the breath-taking beauty of the carefully grown cherry trees gardens all over the country.
The best thing about spring is that you do not have to travel to Japan to enjoy it - anyone can organize their own beautiful hanami picnic under the blooming trees!
This tradition takes routes many centuries ago and was not limited to admiring only cherry blossoms. The magnificence of the blooming trees inspired awe in people, who at that time believed in kami - nature spirits, and took as a custom to make offerings to them so that they would in return bless that year´s harvest and bring prosperity.
But with the time hanami became more widely spread custom of social gatherings for families and friends to celebrate spring with feasts, often accompanied by music and sake under blooming trees. And such wonderful tradition does not have to be limited only to Japan!
It is very easy to organize your own hanami picnic - you just need to check your local weather forecast and find out the blooming periods for the trees in local gardens!
Such as in our beautiful city of Barcelona, there are many different trees blooming during spring time and locals love to enjoy it even just by sitting or having a relaxed walk under their crowns. But many do take one step further and organize a nice picnic on a blanket in numerous local parks and gardens. And the size, as well as the complexity, might vary from simple lunch break of a group of office workers, to a whole day picnic for family and friends, also often accompanied by a live music performance or even open-air cinema after dark.
Although, there´re some traditional rules on which foods to bring to hanami in Japan, such as dango (dumplings on a stick) or bento (box of specially prepared rice, fish and vegetables), it can be easily substituted by the snack from your local cuisine - as, for example, uncountable variations of tapas in Spain with a good bottle of local wine.
If you would like to have a picnic in a more quiet and private atmosphere, you could try driving couple of kilometers from the city to some local orchards, for example.
We could all take a page from the Japanese customs book and enjoy the best of the spring time without the need to travel far!