On the morning of the 21st March 2016, Boss Panda looked up from his newspaper with a smile. “My friends! The Japan Meteorological Society have announced the official start of cherry blossom season today!”
Miko’s eyes widened – “Oh, I get so excited, but they make me dizzy!”
The arrival of the cherry blossoms (sakura) in Japan heralds the beginning of spring, and the end of winter, with flowers opening in Tokyo on average on March 23rd. The word ‘hanami’ means simply ‘flower viewing’ but particularly means the appreciation of cherry blossoms. First references to hanami appear in 9th century Japanese literature, and it continues to be an influence on food, art and culture in modern times.
It is eagerly anticipated – cherry blossom flower and petal designs appear on packaging, fashion and in food. A popular choice for a hanami picnic is a department store bento (lunchbox) with seasonal vegetables, spring herb dumplings (yomogimochi), grilled fish and rice scattered with petal shaped vegetable pieces. Pink becomes a dominant colour everywhere!