All over the world, blossoms are admired for representing that spring is finally here. After months of cold and dark days, mostly spent inside, we are gripped by a new energy and lust for life as the days get warmer. It’s the soft-pink-white cherry blossoms in particular that we love, so delicate, and yet so powerful and grand that when thousands of them melt into one pink blanket, their virtue is mesmerizing.
Cherry blossoms are mostly associated with Japan and play a vital part in their culture, you find them in poems, songs, novels, and art as well as in traditional garments. They have various meanings but not least among them are virtue, hope, new beginning, purity and melancholy. Cherry blossoms today are a symbol for the transience of life and of fragile beauty, but also for the beauty of life, for awakening.
Celebrating Hanami – 花見, Kkotnori – 花遊 and Shǎnghuā – 赏花
Not only in Japan, but all over Asia, cherry blossom season is the highlight of the year. Japanese Hanami, Korean Kkotnori or Chinese Shǎnghuā, roughly translated to ‘flower viewing, enjoying or celebrating’, is rooted deep in history and culture. From the end of March to early May, celebrations spread across the countries along with the blooming. It is all about celebrating the awakening of nature, the beginning of spring. After winter, people gather with families and friends for a picnic or long walks under blooming trees in the park.
Celebrations in Berlin
Cherry trees are widely distributed all over the globe, and the blossom celebrations have spread over and captivated the world, due in part for the sake of the beauty of the flowers. Here in Germany, it’s often a joint celebration of Japanese, Chinese and Korean culture. Even though most of us probably won’t visit Japan in the next months, there’s no reason to be sad, because there are many festivities in Germany that are becoming more and more popular. It’s not a surprise after the Berlin winters that never seem to end. Say hi to spring!
Cherry Blossom Festivities in the Gardens of the World
Already in its 12th edition, the celebration takes place in the Japanese, Korean and Chinese Gardens in the vast park-and-garden area north of Berlin. If you have not been there, the Gardens of the World are always worth a trip, housing ten international gardens, it’s one of the most beautiful and culturally inspiring idylls of the city. Underneath the cherry trees you will find traditional dances, singing, drumming, crafts and of course the finest culinary delicacies, with the program offering equally Japanese, Chinese and Korean culture and gastronomy. Head there with your family and friends, have a taste of Hanami, and welcome spring in the most inspiring way.
29. April, 1-6pm
17th Japanese Cherry Blossom Celebration – Hanami 2018
On a stretch of land where the Berlin Wall once separated East and West, over a thousand Japanese cherry trees line the street. Now called TV-Asahi-Kirschblütenallee thanks to a donation after the fall of the wall by the Japanese television broadcaster, the lane is a popular recreational area for both tourists and locals nowadays, and for a few weeks in spring the 1.5km stretch turns into a pink strip against the blue sky. Framed by two town squares at both ends, the festival in the alley is also celebrating neighborhood and German-Japanese friendship and culture. Walk past the many stands offering traditional food and craft, enjoy the concerts and dances, have your own picnic under the cherry trees and enjoy Hanami in this special place.
These are our two picks from Berlin. For those not living in the capital, there are fantastic celebrations in other German cities as well, with Hamburg being the biggest – have a look at this list on JAPANDIGEST.