Every year thousands, if not millions, of people living in Japan flock to various parks around the country for one purpose: to get drunk while looking at flowers.  Hanami, which means flower viewings, are seasonal picnics that take place according to the sakura (cherry blossom) forecast.

The forecast is a big deal.

The forecast is a big deal.

People pack up rice balls, incredibly amounts of likely unhealthy snacks, and their standard blue tarps and head out to parks around their cities.  Sometimes, for the more official company hanamis, people will also bring folding floor tables (low ones where you sit on the ground next to them, not on chairs) and grills.  Lots of beer is typically involved as well.

This year the weather has been kind of strange.  We have had our normal winter, then a few days in the upper 60s/low 70s, then winter part two, another warm period, followed by the most recent period of winter, which I like to refer to as the more dramatically cinematic title of: Winter Part 3: The Re-Wintering.  As a result of this strange weather, the poor sakura trees are pretty confused about when they are supposed to open up.  It seems that there have been better blooms in Osaka at this point.

Not to be dissuaded by a silly little thing like the actual temperature or bloom status (because things happen in Japan in accordance with a strict schedule.  It doesn’t matter if it’s -5 C and you are trying to build an igloo at your desk, if it’s not after a certain date the heaters cannot be turned on and the students can’t wear their winter uniforms) the foreigners of Miyazaki held two hanamis this past weekend.  The first was down south in Miyakanojo.  I have only been to the ‘Jo (as it is affectionately called when someone doesn’t want to say the whole mouthful) once or twice, and neither visit was very long.

Though the ride down to the ‘Jo was cramped, it was a lot of fun.  The actual event itself was fun as well and I got to hang out with people I rarely see.  I did not take any pictures because I was too busy hanging out, but I am hoping to get some sakura pictures when they bloom a bit more this week.



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