Every spring, Japan’s weather forecasters announce that sakura zensen, or the ‘cherry blossom front’ is on its way. As a blanket of pink and white petals starts to wrap the entire country, we get ready to celebrate the cherry blossom festival. Known as HANAMI, it marks the arrival of spring and draws visitors from all around the world to Kikkoman’s native country.
From mid-March to the beginning of May, Japan’s various cherry tree species – around 300 in total – are in full bloom. They begin to flower in Kyūshū first, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands. Then the cherry blossom front moves north-east as far as the largest island, Hakkaido, which is right up in the north. Slowly, the whole country becomes a sea of colour, with hues ranging from white to blush and bright pink.
The blossoms last around ten days, and during this time the Japanese celebrate the arrival of spring. Families, friends and work colleagues gather under the flowering cherry trees to have a picnic with Obentoand sake, and together they thoroughly enjoy the extraordinary natural spectacle. It truly is a feast for all the senses.