Cherry Blossom Parties in Japan and a Japanese Folk Song called “Hana” (“Sakura”)

When the cherry blossoms bloom in Japan, at the end of March and into April, it’s the sign that Spring is really here!

Cherry Blossoms are pronounced as sakura in Japanese. In Japanese text, sakura is 桜or 櫻.

Japanese people celebrate with hanami, viewing the cherry blossoms. They have picnics under the sakura trees, with co-workers, family and friends. People eat, drink sake and sing songs. This tradition dates back at least to the 9th century AD.

The cherry blossoms are in bloom for only a week or so. News reports forecast when the blossoms will be in full bloom in different areas in Japan. This is called the sakura zensen which means Cherry Blossom Front. This way, people can plan their hanami parties.

Japanese people have many words related to the cherry blossoms. Some are related to food. There’s sakura yu, which is a tea made with cherry blossoms. There’s sakura mochi which is a confection rolled in a cherry leaf.

Yozakura means night cherry blossoms. It refers to viewing the sakura after sundown. The trees look beautiful against the darker, evening or nighttime sky.

Photo of Cherry Blossoms at Night

There’s also sakura fubuki which means cherry blossom (snow) storm. This refers to the last beauty the blossoms bring: when they’re falling, gently floating through the air in a whirlwind of blooms that resembles a snowstorm.

There are also songs about the sakura. Here’s a Japanese folk song called Hana (Sakura), in English, with the Japanese text, and an mp3 recording of the song played on piano.

MP3 of Hana (Sakura) – Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms
(English)

How happy, spring has come over the Sumida*,
Rowing up, rowing down in the warm sunbeams,
Drops from the boatmen’s oars look like cherry blooms,
How can I describe for you the view o’er the streams?

Lo, see the cherry trees that stand in the morning mist,
I hear them speak to me in a tender tone,
In the eve I love to see the waving willows,
They stretch their hands to me strolling alone.

Oh, see the hazy moon rising o’er the banks,
Rows of cherry trees standing o’er the stream,
How I love the cherry blossoms in the moonlight!
How can I describe for you the night like in a dream?

*The Sumida River, which runs along the banks of Tokyo

桜 – Hana
(Japanese Text)

Sakura Text in Japanese

Many people in Japan are very aware of nature and the seasons around them. They recognize the transient nature of the beauty of the sakura. The hanami is a special time to take in its beauty and perhaps reflect on the transient nature of all of life.

-Lisa

Many thanks the Japan Information and Culture Center, a part of the Embassy of Japan, for contributing this song and to Susan Pomerantz for playing the tune on the piano.

Please email me or comment below if you know the Japanese transliteration of Hana or if you’d like to send an alternate recording or midi.

Come visit the Mama Lisa’s World Japan Page for more Songs from Japan.

UPDATE: I just posted another traditional Japanese Cherry Blossom Song called Sakura, Sakura.

2 Responses to “Cherry Blossom Parties in Japan and a Japanese Folk Song called “Hana” (“Sakura”)”

  1. Sonia Says:

    I think that you should have a wider range of different aspects of Japanese folk songs in English and Japanese. I also think that you should have an easily accesible section on the instrunments that would be used for playing the songs. It would be even better if you were to add in the music and make it all easily printed and in a group. These minor things would make your sight more easily useable for anyone who would wish to gain information or knowlege about any of the aspects about Japanese music. It would mean a quicker and more easily used as well as popular site for all to use and to benifit from. I hope you consider those slight improvements and put them into effect very quickly.
    Sonia

  2. “Sakura, Sakura” another Japanese Cherry Blossom Song | Mama Lisa's World Blog Says:

    […] In my previous entry, I talked about the importance of Hanami, Cherry Blossom Viewing, in the Springtime, in Japan. […]

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