Hanami literally translated means "flower viewing". Ask anyone who has lived in Japan for any length of time and they'll tell you that the word "hanami" invokes images of wonderful picnics beneath a canopy of Cherry Tree blossoms. Laughter, joyous conversation and the delicious scent of BBQ smoke drift through the air! The breeze scatters hundreds of blossom petals that flutter down landing on heads, picnic mats and bento boxes! Petals carpet traditional Japanese kawara roofs, ancient castle walls and everything in between!
Photo: tiarescott on FlickrPicnicking under the Cherry Trees is truly a magical experience that shouldn't be missed!
Photo: yuki5287 on FlickrThe Fukuoka Castle ruins in Maizuru Park have a thousand cherry trees planted throughout the grounds! The park offers lots of space for hanami picnics. Amazing views from the observation platform provide for excellent photo opportunities. The atmosphere is festive with women strolling in beautiful kimonos and musicians playing modern and traditional music. If you are lucky you might even hear taiko drumming! The park charges no admission fee.
Nishi Park also has over a thousand cherry trees planted on its hillside. There are plenty of grassy areas on the hillside to place a picnic mat and enjoy the spectacular view! There is no admission fee.
Photo: Skil Fibber on FlickrIf you'd like to do a little touring before you enjoy your picnic, Uminonakamichi Seaside Park is the perfect place. The park does charge 410 yen admission but it's a small price to pay to view the two thousand cherry trees planted on the park’s spacious grounds! Rental bikes are available at a price of 400 yen for three hours.
If you think hanami picnics are only for the daytime, some popular viewing spots light up the blossoms in the evening adding a completely different atmosphere to the experience!
Photo: Szabolcs Arany on FlickrAtago Shrine is Fukuoka's oldest shrine. Sitting high atop a hillside, Atago Shrine offers a spectacular view of the city below. There are hundreds of cherry trees that line the steps leading up to the shrine. Although there isn't any space along the way up to place a picnic mat, the trees are illuminated in the evenings which makes for an enchanting walk to the top. If you do decide to visit Atago Shrine in the evening you'll have a breathtaking view of Fukuoka City at night!
Worried about the crowds and not being able to find that perfect hanami spot? It's common to spread your picnic mat out early in the morning with a name tag attached to reserve a space but, be sure to check first if it's ok. Not all parks have the same rules. Convenience stores are popular places to buy hanami bento. Be sure to bring trash bags, there are no public trash bins in most places. The 100 yen shops have everything you'll need for a fantastic hanami picnic.