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Find out all about hanami and what the Japanese eat during this season!

What is hanami?

Hanami " is a Japanese tradition that consists of contemplating cherry blossoms, especially during the cherry blossom season, known as "hanami". " sakura ". This tradition dates back many centuries in Japan, and has become a very popular springtime practice.

During the hanami period, people gather in parks, gardens or under cherry blossom trees to picnic, socialize and simply enjoy the ephemeral beauty of the cherry blossoms.

Hanami is not only a visual activity, but also an important cultural and social experience in Japan. The Japanese often regard this period as a time to reflect on the transitory nature of life, symbolized by the short duration of the cherry blossoms.

What does sakura mean in Japanese?

In Japanese, " sakura " (桜) refers to cherry blossoms or cherry blossoms. cherry blossoms. These trees are highly symbolic in Japan and are associated with the ephemeral beauty of life, as cherry blossoms generally last only a few days. Cherry blossom, known as "hanami ", is a much-loved tradition in Japan, where people gather to admire and celebrate the beauty of cherry blossoms during this short period. Cherry blossoms are also a symbol of renewal, purity and the transience of life.


When do sakura blossom?

As a general rule, cherry trees begin to blossom in late March or early April. However, this can vary from year to year. Cherry blossom is a highly anticipated event, and the Japanese often follow weather forecasts and official announcements to plan their Hanami festivities. The cherry blossom season, or " sakura " in Japan, depends on weather conditions and varies from region to region. Generally speaking, cherry blossoms begin to bloom in the warmer southern regions of Japan, before moving northwards.

Once the cherry blossoms have begun to open, they remain in full bloom for only one to two weeks, depending on weather conditions. The hanami season is therefore relatively short, which contributes to the symbolism of the ephemeral beauty of cherry blossoms.

What do the Japanese eat during hanami?

During the hanami season in Japan, people usually prepare special meals to enjoy the experience under the cherry blossoms. Hanami picnics, called "ohanami", often consist of light dishes and snacks that can be enjoyed in the open air. Here are just a few examples of dishes popular during this period:

  • Bento hanami: bentos are Japanese lunch boxes. During hanami, you can find special bentos with a variety of dishes such as sushi, tempura, yakitori (chicken skewers), salads and fruit.

  • Sakura mochi (recipe below!): these are sweet rice cakes, often filled with red bean paste, wrapped in edible cherry leaves. These mochi are particularly popular during the hanami season.

  • Hana-ikada: these are small food boats decorated with edible flowers, such as cherry blossom petals, containing a variety of dishes such as sushi, tempura and sweet bites.

  • Alcoholic beverages: during hanami, it's common to enjoy alcoholic beverages such as sake, beer and wine. Breweries sometimes offer special editions of sake to celebrate the cherry blossom season.

The convivial atmosphere of hanami picnics is an integral part of the celebration, where friends, family and even colleagues get together to enjoy the spring scenery and share delicious meals.

At this time of year, limited editions of sakura-themed food products flourish in Japan! Here are just a few examples to be found and enjoyed during this season:

Sakura Kit-Kat: Kit-Kat is known in Japan for offering seasonal flavors. During the hanami season, you might find sakura-flavored Kit-Kat.

Noodles with sakura: noodles play an important role in the Japanese diet and habits. At this time of year, many noodle dishes feature the cherry blossom.


Drinks with sakura: special drinks such as sakura tea or sodas flavored with cherry blossom may be available in limited editions.


Sakura-flavored Snacks: snacks such as chips, cookies and ice cream can be offered with a sakura flavor.


Sakura Sake and sakura spirits: breweries can create special editions of sake, liqueur or others with notes of cherry blossom and sometimes even fresh flowers!


Of course, these products vary from region to region and year to year. The hanami season is an opportunity to create exclusive products and attract customers during this festive period. If you have the opportunity to visit Japan during the hanami season, be sure to check out the local limited editions available then!


Some recipes to make at home:

Sakura Mochi recipe:


  • 2 cups glutinous rice (mochigome)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cherry leaf extract (optional)
  • Sweet red bean paste (an or tsubuan)
  • Edible cherry leaves (sakura)


  1. Rinse glutinous rice in cold water until water runs clear. Cook glutinous rice according to package instructions.
  2. In a saucepan, combine sugar and water and heat over low heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Add cherry leaf extract if using.
  3. When the rice is cooked, add the sweet syrup to the rice and stir gently until the rice is well coated.
  4. Take a small portion of rice and flatten it in the palm of your hand. Add a small amount of red bean paste to the center of the rice and gently wrap the rice around the paste.
  5. Wrap each mochi with an edible cherry leaf, folding if necessary.

Hanami Dango recipe:


For the dough:

  • 1 cup glutinous rice flour (shiratamako)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Food coloring (pink for the first ball, green for the second, and none for the third)

For the topping:

  • Anko (sweet red bean paste)
  • Kinako (roasted soy powder)


  1. In a bowl, mix glutinous rice flour with water until smooth.
  2. Divide dough into three equal parts. Add pink food coloring to one part, green coloring to another, and leave the third part uncolored.
  3. Form small balls from each portion of dough.
  4. Cook dough balls in boiling water until they float to the surface (this only takes a few minutes). Remove and allow to cool slightly.
  5. Thread the cooked balls onto skewers, alternating colors.
  6. Serve dango with anko (sweet red bean paste) and sprinkle with kinako (toasted soy powder).

These two recipes are ideal for celebrating the hanami season with traditional Japanese flavors.