Staring from late March until the middle of April, the sakura (cherry blossoms), begin to bloom. There are tons of cherry blossom trees in Japan so the entire city becomes engulfed with them. After coming back from Korea, it was the first thing I noticed. I took a few pictures around my area:
Sakura signify a lot of things here such as change and the beginning of a new year. The sakura usually bloom around the same time you start school. It’s pretty common to see the trees surrounded the schools; it’s really gorgeous:
When sakura arrive, people begin to schedule hanami parties. Hanami literally means “flower watching”. Basically, you have a giant picnic under the sakura trees with a ton of friends on a tarp. Oh, and you drink lots of booze. And I mean a lot. It’s not rare to see wasted Japanese people acting silly during hanami. If you want to plan a hanami, you have to act fast because people will be scouting locations as early as 8 AM! By the time it’s the afternoon, you will see crowds of people in parks, enjoying the sakura.
I had the pleasure to enjoy 3 hanami parties. The first one happened as soon as I came back. It was my friend, Nate’s birthday. We went to Hamadera Park to have a huge party. There were a ton of sakura trees, so the view was amazing:
I also got really, really drunk that day. I think it was the most drunk I have ever been in Japan. I probably got there at around 2 PM. I didn’t get a chance to eat much but I was offered a lot of booze. Before I knew it, I was sloshed. I wasn’t alone though, a ton of people were drunk, especially the Japanese. Before I got too drunk, I remember an old man offering me a can of booze as some sort of offering. He also tried to get Nate to hook up with this old lady. It was so funny.
A couple of young girls were dancing and there were a bunch of old guys just watching them and cheering them on. It was so bizarre but anything goes at a hanami. You will see some of the weirdest shit:
Carl, our friend who loves to grill was eventually filmed by a TV crew who was fascinated at the huge foreigner party. The old man’s group decided to crash it and challenged Carl to an arm wrestling match. Before Carl knew it, he was going through a gauntlet of arm wrestling matches including the old lady:
Some random young guy tried to hook Judith’s husband up with some young Japanese girls, only to be disappointed to learn he was married. Josh apparently looks like a model here so he gets stopped a lot. Around this point, I was getting really drunk. Time just started to fly by and before I knew it, it was getting dark:
I barely remember the day (besides looking like an idiot), but I do remember having to be carried by Josh to go to the bathroom and exclaiming on how drunk I was to my friends. At least I wasn’t drunk as this guy:
When it got dark, we all scattered to the station. I recall people wanting to go to the city to continue the party, which I was down for. Judith quickly shot that idea down though and her and her husband dragged me back home. It was definitely the right call as I was drunk out of my mind; I probably would’ve blacked out somewhere in the city if I continued to drink. Instead, I was treated to a nice dinner by them and eventually sobered up by drinking a ton of water.
The second hanami was the day after Nate’s party. Apparently we live next to a really nice park that’s known to have a lot of sakura trees. Seeing how crazy I got the day before, I decided to take it slow but still joined my local friends. It was a mellow and nice day to just chat and enjoy the view:
My final hanami this year was at the park right next to Osaka castle with the Osaka JETs. I met with some friends who were at Nate’s party and they all laughed at me on how I acted that day. I eventually pieced out what I exactly did that day and it sounded pretty amusing. Probably out of fear that I would get that drunk again, I made sure not to go too crazy. I did get to witness a lot of my friends get as drunk as I did so I ended up playing caretaker that evening. I saw a lot of people I hadn’t seen in awhile, so it was really fun. Also the view was really nice, especially with the castle in the background:
Unfortunately, the sakura season doesn’t last too long. It’s the middle of April as I type this and I can already see the majority of the sakura are on the ground:
I wish it was longer because it really is beautiful to see it in person. I didn’t get a chance to check out Kyoto during this time of year; I hear it’s really gorgeous when the sakura are in bloom. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to do that next year. I already can’t wait!