Names in this site follow the Japanese custom of family name first.

April 6, 2012

Hanami Dictionary

Bashotori: "Securing a place." Groups (colleagues from companies etc.) that meet in the evenings for hanami usually send someone earlier in the day to stretch out sheets of blue plastic and sit there to secure the location until the others arrive. Popular spots under the cherry trees, such as in Ueno Park, already tend to be taken early in the day.

Hana: "Blossoms." Without another signifier since the 13th c. exclusively referring to "cherry blossoms."

Hanabie: "Blossom Cold." The weather can still be cold (about 10 degrees) when the first cherry blossoms appear so that viewers sit shivering under the trees.

Hanafubuki: "Blossom Blizzard." When the blossom petals are scattering and dancing in the air, like a snow storm of pink petals.

Hanakage: "The shade of the blossoms." The area under a flowering cherry tree where one sits to enjoy the sakura.

Hanamatsuri: "Blossom festival." The Buddhist festival to celebrate the birth of the historical Buddha on April 8, just when in Japan the blossoms are all out.

Hanami: "Cherry blossom viewing." More often than not a raucous party with lots of food and drink rather than a quiet contemplation of the beauty of nature.

Hana no kumo: "Blossom Clouds." See this famous haiku by Basho.

Hanazakari: "Blossom Flourishing." The time when the sakura are in full bloom.

Hazukura: "Leafy Blossoms." When many of the blossoms of a tree have fallen (but not all!) and the first young, green leaves appear among them. Signifies the end of hanami.

Konohana Sakuyahime: "Princess Flowering Blossoms." In Japanese mythology the daughter of the Mountain God and later consort of Prince Ninigi, the grandson of the Sun Goddess. Can also be seen as a flower spirit.

Sakura: "Cherry blossom." In Japan, cherries (Prunus serrulata) do not bear fruit - the fruit-bearing type is an import from the West. "Sakura" exclusively refers to the blossoming cherry tree, or the blossoms themselves. By the way, edible cherries are called sakuranbo.

Sakuranamiki: "Cherry blossom tunnel." Cherry trees planted on both sides of a road or path, and forming a tunnel of blossoms. A good example in Tokyo is the road leading through the Aoyama Cemetery. A good example in the Kansai is the road leading through the Mint in Osaka.

Sakura zensen: "Cherry blossom front." The first blooming cherries appear in February in Okinawa and the "front" reaches Kyoto and Tokyo in early April; northern Japan follows in early May. Forecasts are given on TV, in newspapers and of course on the internet and are closely followed by prospective Hanami participants.

Satozakura: "Village Cherry." General name for the ornamental garden variety of the cherry tree, which blooms later and lasts longer than the Someyoshino. Blossoms range from white and pink to pale yellow, and can be both single and double, hanging down (weeping cherries) or standing tall.

Shidarezakura: "Weeping cherry tree." Tree from which the branches hang down. Mostly of the Edo-higan type (Prunus pendula).

Someyoshino: "Yoshino cherry" (Prunus x yedoensis). Naturally occurring hybrid with fragrant pink flowers, the most ubiquitous cherry tree in Japan.

Yaezakura: "Eight-fold cherry." Prunus Cerasus. Double-flowered blossoms with scores of petals per flower. With yamazakura, one of the oldest types in Japan.

Yamazakura: "Mountain cherry tree." Prunus Jamasakura, the original Japanese cherry tree on which many cultivars are based. Can still be found in the countryside where it naturally crowns hills and mountain sides. Flowers range from white to pale pink.

Yozakura: "Night Sakura," cherry blossom viewing after dark - in many parks and gardens in Japan lanterns are hung out and stalls are set up to cater to the viewers.