Japan · travel tips

Hanami in Japan: The Cheapest Way

hanami in japan the cheapest wayThe tradition of hanami (花見, flower viewing) in Japan is many centuries old. The habit is said to have started during the Nara period (710–794) when it was ume (plum) blossoms that people marveled at in the beginning. Sakura (cherry tree) appeared to captivate more attention and hanami was synonymous with sakura by the Heian period (794–1185). From then on, the word meant cherry blossom viewing. As time passed, viewing turned into having an out of the house social gathering underneath the sakura during daylight or nighttime. This custom usually takes place from the end of March to early May. Expect that the well-known hanami spots will be a little cramped especially on weekends.

If you’re a kind of person who doesn’t really enjoy being around a big crowd, but can’t resist the urge to experience the traditional custom just like me, you’re about to discover the right solution. You don’t have to go to those places to take pleasure in the ephemeral beauty of sakura.

sakura park in Saitama
a public park in Minami-Urawa, Saitama, April 2017

One of the things I like living in Japan is the monthly distribution of the community newsletter of sorts. The downside of it is that the paper is written in Japanese, but my husband is always to the rescue. 😀 They mostly announce different things happening in your town and one of those is the blossom forecast.

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Upon seeing this, excitement came rushing through my veins. I can finally experience it without having to spend a single coin for the train. The popular hanami spots are not that near to my place and getting there will surely cost a lot for the two of us. Time will also be of limit. But thank God, turns out that a hidden gem of cherry blossoms is just about 10 minutes away from our doorstep. Off we went last Saturday.

cherry trees in Saitama
Minami-Urawa, Saitama, April 2017

I noticed about 10 sakura trees in this park and the number didn’t matter to me.

hanami picnics in Saitama
hanami picnics at the park in Minami-Urawa, Saitama, April 2017

It was a pure joy to witness the locals doing the custom. Hearing their distinct conversations and the sound of laughter made me curious. Hey, I wasn’t eavesdropping! There’s a fine line between hearing and eavesdropping, right? 😀

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Photo credits to my husband

Danny and I found an empty bench and made it into our love nest for about an hour. 😀 I loved how peaceful the park was. Not crowded, but I saw different faces. Not noisy, but I could hear subtle voices and giggles. Not a vast area, but there was enough space for everyone.

korean filipino couple in japan
last Saturday’s affair with sakura 😀

Despite the simplicity of the place, it didn’t hinder me to appreciate the beautiful things around me. It also allowed me to do some joyful introspection.

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That moment, I was reminded yet again that it’s in simplicity one can truly find peace and joy. Now, let me remind you to appreciate the small things around you because everything on earth is fleeting.

cherry blossoms in saitama
Photo credits to my husband

Go out and explore your neighborhood, who knows there’s one glorious sakura right around the corner next to that convenience store. 😉

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