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culture, hanami, sakura

Vocabulary Workshop: Best Words for Cherry Blossoms!

Karina Ikedo

Karina Ikedo

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Two women in kimono walking down the street among cherry blossoms. There are many sakura words related to this vocabulary workshop.

In Japan, the cherry blossom tree and its flowers signify spring. These blossoms bring luck and love but also reflect the reminder of life’s fragility due to their brief bloom. You can see the influence of the sakura everywhere, especially in the Japanese language. For this vocabulary workshop, let’s explore words and customs related to cherry blossoms! 

Sakura

Sakura, as we all know, translates to “cherry blossom.” But in reality, the name comes from the word “saku,” meaning “to bloom” or “smile.” How can someone not smile when they see these stunning flowers?

Instead of producing fruit like other trees, this tree only has ornamental flowers. They go from dark pink to light rose in color. The fact that the sakura of Japan only blooms for a couple of weeks makes them so unique. As a result, they best exemplify the proverb, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” 

Hanami

Hanami (flower viewing) consists of the kanji for “flowers” and “watching”; it is a picnic below cherry blossom trees. A picnic under cherry blossom trees is what best describes hanami. People enjoying the cherry blossoms while eating and drinking with family, friends, or coworkers is seen in most parks around Japan during the sakura season.

A bunch of people hanging out under cherry blossoms for hanami.
Hanami picnics are essential for cherry blossom season! Image via Shutterstock

If you want to see some of Japan’s best sakura spots, we advise you to arrive early in the morning, as popular parks and cherry blossom viewing locations are especially busy. The most popular places in Tokyo to have a hanami picnic include Yoyogi, Ueno and Inokashira Park (Kichijoji).

Hanafubuki

If you’ve ever been to a cherry blossom field, you’ll be familiar with that special moment when the wind blows and the flower petals gently float in the air. This phenomenon is known as sakura-fubuki (cherry blossom snowfall).

A woman basking in cherry blossom petals flowing everywhere.
Hanabufuki is a gentle wind of cherry blossoms. Image via Shutterstock

To describe the moments when, after reaching full bloom, cherry blossom petals fall from the branches and are carried in a breeze, looking like snowflakes. Hanafubuki is a common motif in Japanese entertainment, especially TV dramas.

Sakura zensen

A birds eye view of Hokkaido's star-shaped Goryokaku Park, covered in cherry blossoms. The vocabulary workshop for the cherry blossom forecast is "sakura zensen".
Depending on the location, some cherry blossoms bloom as late as May. Image via Shutterstock

The Japan Meteorological Agency issues a sakura forecast every year, referring to the ‘front’ of cherry blossoms that moves up Japan, beginning in Kyushu and ending in Hokkaido. Locals look forward to watching this forecast to discover when the flowers will start in their region.

Hana yori dango

A plate of hanami dango (pink green white) next to some cherry blossoms.
Most people go to hanami for the food! Image via Shutterstock

“Hana yori dango” means that substance is more important than style. It’s a playful remark that, at hanami gatherings, guests are frequently more interested in the refreshments than the flowers themselves. Not to mention, there’s plenty of hanami dango to enjoy while you’re there!

Sakuragari

A woman softly gazing at a branch of cherry blossoms.
Sakuragari is another word for “sakura hunting”. Image via Shutterstock

People who go on a journey to appreciate the beauty of Japan’s cherry blossoms in the springtime are known as sakuragari. This activity involves traveling from place to place to experience the magnificence of the blooms.

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Hanagasumi

A river full of fallen cherry blossom petals. The vocabulary workshop word for this is "hanagasumi".
Rivers of cherry blossoms almost seem like a dream. Image via Shutterstock

Hanagasumi (flower haze) occurs when many cherry blossom trees bloom in a row, creating a flower haze, or blurry vision, with its pink and white petals. This vocabulary workshop term describes the delicate white cherry blossoms. As these trees often cling to the riverbanks in the early morning, these white petals look like mist across the horizon.

Asazakura

A close-up of morning dew of cherry blossoms.
The sight of morning dew on cherry blossoms is breathtaking. Image via Shutterstock

Asazakura is an awe-inspiring sight for those who love cherry blossoms – the petals are covered in morning dew, making them sparkle in the early morning sun. Walking shortly after sunrise offers an enchanting view of the sakura flowers in the soft light.

Sakurabito

A woman blissfully holding a branch of cherry blossoms to her face. The vocabulary workshop word for this is "sakurabito".
Sakurabito adore cherry blossoms of all types. Image via Shutterstock

Sakurabito (sakura person) addresses a person who is a die-hard fan of sakura and hanami celebrations. They usually anticipate the cherry blossom season months before it starts and make elaborate plans accordingly. While most people appreciate the beautiful spring flowers more casually, the sakurabito takes them to the next level–just like the final word in this vocabulary workshop.

Mikkamisumanosakura

This highly descriptive and poetic Japanese term means that change occurs suddenly and intensely, much like how a sakura tree shifts from being in full bloom to being scattered briefly. Mikkamisumanosakura is also an excellent metaphor for fleeting life that we should treasure for as long as possible.

A long bench among the cherry blossoms in a park. The vocabulary workshop for abrupt changes in sakura is "mikkamisumanosakura".
Cherry blossoms fall as quickly as they bloom. Image via Shutterstock

Japanese proverbs and language refer to cherry blossoms, demonstrating their importance to Japanese culture. A variety of words describes many springtime phenomena in Japan in the Japanese language. We hope you liked reading about some of the spring terms and will try to use them yourself.

Are there any cherry blossom words missing from this vocabulary workshop? How do you celebrate the coming of spring in your country? Let us know in the comments below!

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