Hanami (花見, “flower viewing”) is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers. That may not mean much to you in your day to day as you navigate the concrete jungle we call Manhattan. However, there is green and there are flowers around us. And, spring has sprung!
In fact, Spring will be blossoming through the end of April and there are plenty of Cherry-blossoms to see. Yes, here in New York!
Cherry-blossom viewing is a centuries-old Japanese custom, a springtime occasion for merriment and the contemplation of life’s beauty and transience. You can partake in this tradition at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, home to scores of flowering varieties for public enjoyment., The Botanic Garden has 26 species of flowering cherry trees for a total of more than 200 that are spread out across Cherry Esplanade, Cherry Walk and the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. Guided tours focusing on the blooms are held on Wednesdays during the April viewing season, though the more-frequent garden tours touch on them as well. The month culminates in a celebration of the brilliant blooms with Sakura Matsuri (April 27–28), a festival of Japanese performances and cultural happenings.
While your first thought after the warm weather hits is not flowers, unconsciously, we think it makes us happier.
If you can’t make it to Brooklyn, try going uptown. It’s also a free way to enjoy the blossoms. From 100th Street to 125th Street, Riverside Park’s Cherry Walk is a lovely way to take in the blooms. The Committee of Japanese Residents of New York presented 2,000 cherry trees as a gift to the city in 1909 and about 700 of them were planted. Some surviving trees of the original planting were also part of the same batch planted in Washington, D.C.
It’s a special time in our city. Winter is over, and the fun is about to start. Kick it off with some flower’s courtesy of our friends from Japan.