Vocabulary (Review)

Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Japan Series at JapanesePod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Japanese holidays and observances. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 10- Cherry Blossom Viewing
花見 (Hanami) is a custom unique to Japan in which we view cherry blossoms and celebrate the coming of spring. Cherry blossoms bloom across Japan, starting in Kyushu in late March, and then gradually move north until they bloom in Hokkaido in early May. Cherry blossoms can only be enjoyed for a short period of time, as they fall off just two weeks after blooming. Cherry blossoms are an incredibly important flower to the Japanese, and since ancient times they have had a great impact on the Japanese appreciation of the changing seasons, as well as its aesthetic sense.
Now, before we go any further, do you know the answer to this question- which famous person from the 16th century Azuchi-Momoyama era held the most magnificent cherry blossom viewing?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
It’s customary at cherry blossom viewings to eat a special boxed lunch, drink alcohol, and chat with one's friends while enjoying the cherry blossoms. In more than half the regions of Japan, the cherry blossom viewing period is in April, coinciding with the beginning of a new school and fiscal year Japan. Therefore, cherry blossom-viewings are often held during welcome parties for new students and employees. Looking at the pale pink of the cherry blossoms shine in the blue sky while enjoying the warm spring breeze and tucking into a tasty lunch is part of the fun of spring.
Because so many people enjoy the tradition of cherry blossom viewing, preparing for it in advance is essential. Staking out a good spot to see the cherry blossoms and laying out a plastic sheet, which is called 場所取り(bashotori), are important steps of the preparation. On the day itself, people bring food and drink and gather together at the place they reserved. While enjoying the cherry blossoms, they excitedly chat, sing karaoke, and have fun.
Cherry blossom viewing doesn't only take place in the daytime. There is also what is known as "nighttime cherry blossom viewing." Parks and temples—well-known places for cherry blossom viewing—often put up lights so that people can come and enjoy the cherry blossoms at night. Many groups gather and hold parties under the nighttime cherry blossoms. As darkness falls, cherry blossoms have a quite different appearance compared to the daytime.
Here’s our fun fact for the day! Did you know that 花見 (hanami) rice dumplings are a symbol of cherry blossom viewing? Three dumplings, which are two to three centimeters in diameter and of different colors, are skewered together. The pink dumpling at the top represents the cherry blossoms, the white one in the middle represents snow, and the green one at the bottom represents the mugwort plant.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question- who held a magnificent viewing party?
The correct answer is 豊臣秀吉 (Hideyoshi Toyotomi). He held a magnificent cherry blossom viewing party in 醍醐寺 (Daigo-ji), a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, that was attended by his wife, son, feudal lords, and subordinates. This grand occasion, known as the Daigo Cherry blossom Viewing, is a famous historical event. Because of this, 豊太閤花見行列 (Hōtaikō Hanami Gyōretsu), meaning “Hanami Parade”) is held at 醍醐寺 (Daigo-ji) on the second Sunday of April each year.
Well listeners, how was this lesson?
Did you learn something new?
In your country, do you have flower viewing parties? Are there any interesting customs involved?
Please leave us a comment telling us at JapanesePod101.com.
And we’ll see you next time!