Hanami (cherry blossom viewing)

In early spring, Japanese people can’t wait for cherry blossoms to bloom. In March, TV news starts to give cherry blossom forecasts and people make plans for hanami based on them. Hana means flower or blossom and mi means viewing. However, hanami means more than that.

When the cherry blossoms in their town bloom, people go out for hanami. There are many places for hanami: parks, gardens, river banks, temples, shrines, and castles. People enjoy picnicking under the blooming blossoms. They also enjoy parties, eating and drinking in the evening.

*Because of the covid-19, people are encouraged to refrain from having hanami parties this year.

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Otsukimi (Moon viewing)

Japanese people have a custom of moon viewing during the night when the moon is most beautiful and brightest in the year. The moon on August 15 in the lunar calendar is called the harvest moon. In today’s calendar, the day changes depending on the year, but it falls on a day somewhere between mid-September and early October.

This moon-viewing custom originated in the Tang Dynasty, and was introduced to Japan in the Heian period. People appreciate and honor the moon by displaying pampas grass and making an offering of rice dumplings to the harvest moon.

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