Japan Travel: Hanami

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Hanami

Dell’Hanami, ovvero dell’osservare i fiori.

Primavera è sinonimo di Hanami  in Giappone. Formato dai Kanji: Hana 花  “fiore” e mi 見 “guardare”, il termine hanami significa godere della bellezza dei fiori che sbocciano. In particolare, si riferisce al guardare i Sakura: fiori di ciliegio.

Per capire il profondo significato di questa tradizione magica, l’haiku di Yosa Buson è perfetto:

“Cadono i fiori di ciliegio

sugli specchi d’acqua della risaia:

stelle, al chiarore di una notte senza luna.”

In queste parole si legge il simbolismo estetico del rapporto tra la natura e l’essere umano in cui tutto diviene armonico. La primavera è, difatti, “rinascita” quindi un rinnovamento dell’anima e dello spirito. La caduta dei fiori indica invece la transitorietà delle cose poiché i fiori raggiungono il culmine nella fioritura per poi cadere e lasciarsi trasportare dai corsi d’acqua. La bellezza è quindi meravigliosa ed effimera. In giapponese possiamo riassumere tale concetto nella piccola frase 物の哀れ, “mono no aware”. Questo concetto estetico esprime una forte partecipazione emotiva nei confronti della bellezza della natura e della vita umana, con una conseguente sensazione nostalgica legata al suo incessante mutamento.

Photo Credits:  regex.info

Le Radici

Le colline di Yoshino sono il luogo di origine dei ciliegi giapponesi. La leggenda racconta che nel VII secolo d.C. il sacerdote  En-no-Ozuno piantò i sakura e su di essi lanciò una maledizione che avrebbe colpito chiunque avesse osato abbatterli. C’è però chi afferma che l’hanami provenga dalla Cina, all’epoca della dinastia Tang, che influenzò il Giappone del periodo Nara. Inizialmente erano gli “ume” (alberi di prugne) a regalare lo spettacolo della fioritura. Durante il periodo Heian (794-1185) però, la corte giapponese si trasferì stabilmente a Kyoto e qui, l’imparagonabile bellezza degli alberi di ciliegio sovrastò quelli di prugne.

Murasaki Shikibu, dama di corte che compose il “Genji Monogatari”, il primo romanzo della storia, utilizzò per la prima volta il termine “hanami” in relazione ai fiori di ciliegio. Inizialmente, questo rito contemplava la partecipazione di un élite composta da nobili, dignitari di corte, samurai e poeti, che beveva sake ed esponeva haiku sulla bellezza dei fiori di ciliegio. Nel successivo periodo Edo, l’hanami si diffuse anche ai ceti più bassi tramutandosi in una festa nazionale. E questo fu possibile anche grazie allo shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune che diffuse gli alberi di ciliegio piantandoli in tutto il Giappone.

Photo Credits:  kabekin.com

Tra Bellezza e Caducità, l’Hanami oggi

L’hanami si svolge in un periodo di tempo che si protrae tra il mese di marzo e aprile quando avviene la fioritura dei sakura. Tradizionalmente, le persone si riuniscono stendendo i propri tappetini azzurri ai piedi degli alberi e, armati dei propri bento, godono dello spettacolo della natura degustando piatti tipici. Tra questi ci sono gli hanami-dango, polpette di riso in tre colori: rosa, bianco e verde,  accompagnate dal tè verde e fiumi di sake. Altro piatto tipico è il dolce sakura mochi, fatto con pasta di fagioli e riso pressato avvolto in una foglia di ciliegio salata. E lo spettacolo continua fino a sera  culminando nello Yozakura 夜桜 in cui la notte viene rischiarata dai chochin, tipiche lanterne colorate fatte di carta.

Photo Credits:  thespruce.com

A caccia dello spettacolo

Il Giappone è completamente invaso dalla fioritura simultanea degli alberi che si risvegliano dal torpore invernale, caratteristica che colpisce al cuore e alla vista. Ma vi sono luoghi in cui il fascino della natura è più prepotente. Tra i luoghi imperdibili c’è il parco Maruyama a Kyoto famoso per lo Shidarezakura, il ciliegio piangente, unico al mondo. A Tokyo troviamo il Parco di Ueno con i suoi antichi templi ed il laghetto Shinobazu-ike. Il Castello di Himeji, nella prefettura di Hyōgo, è circondato da un bosco di ciliegi che formano un labirinto. Il Castello di Hirosaki invece, nella prefettura di Aomori, è famoso per i suoi  2,600 ciliegi. E ancora, il monte Yoshino, nella prefettura di Nara, dove 100.000 ciliegi sorgono sul dorso della montagna.[:en]

Hanami

About Hanami, or the Flower viewing.

In Japan, spring is synonymous with Hanami. Written with the kanji: Hana 花  “flower” and mi 見 “viewing”, the word hanami means enjoying the beauty of blooming flowers. In particular, it refers to the Sakura: cherry blossom.

To understand the profound meaning of this magical tradition, Yosa Buson’s haiku is perfect:

“Cherry petals 

in the rice-seedling water, 

moon and stars.”

In these words we read the aesthetic symbolism behind the relationship between nature and human beings in which everything becomes harmonious. Spring is, in fact, a “rebirth”, therefore a renovation of the soul and of the spirit. The falling flowers indicate the transience of things. As flowers reach the peak when they bloom and then fall to be carried away by water, beauty is therefore wonderful and ephemeral at the same time. In Japanese, we can summarize this concept in the small sentence 物の哀れ, “mono no aware”. This aesthetic concept expresses a strong emotional participation toward the beauty of nature and human life, with a consequent nostalgic feeling linked to its incessant change.

Photo Credits:  regex.info

The Roots 

Yoshino hills is where cherry trees originated in Japan. The legend says that in the VII century the priest En-no-Ozuno planted some sakura trees casting a curse on them. The curse would hit anyone who dared to cut the trees down. However, there are those who say that the hanami came from China, at the time of the Tang dynasty, which influenced Japan in the Nara period. Originally, there where the  “ume” (prunus trees) to offer viewers the spectacle of their flowering. During the Heian period (794-1185) however, the Japanese imperial court moved to Kyoto where the unparalleled beauty of the cherry trees outshone that of the prunus.

Murasaki Shikibu, the court-lady that wrote the “Genji Monogatari”, the first novel ever written, used the word “hanami” related to the cherry blossom viewing for the first time. In the beginning, it was a rite restricted to an elite of nobles, dignitaries, samurai and poets, that drank sake and recited haiku on the beauty of the cherry blossom. In the following Edo period, the hanami spread to lower classes as well, eventually becoming a national holiday. This was also thanks to the shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune that planted areas of cherry blossom trees all over Japan.

Photo Credits:  kabekin.com

Between Beauty and Transience, Hanami today

The hanami takes place in a period of time that extends from March to April when sakura reaches their blooming season. Traditionally, people gather together laying out their blue tarps under the trees and, armed with their bento, enjoy the spectacle of nature eating traditional dishes. Among them we can find the hanami-dango, rice dumpling of three colors: pink, white and green, accompanied by green tea and lots of sake. Another typical dish is the sakura mochi, a sweet made of red bean paste and rice, all wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf. And the enjoyment goes on until the evening arrives, culminating in the Yozakura 夜桜 when the night is illuminated by chochin, traditional colored lantern made of paper.

Photo Credits:  thespruce.com

Chasing after the best view

Japan is completely invaded by the simultaneous blooming of the trees awaken from the winter torpor, something that strikes the heart as well as the eye.  But there are places where the charm of nature is more overwhelming than anywhere else. Among the must-see spots there is the Maruyama park in Kyoto, that is famous for the Shidarezakura, the unique weeping sakura. In  Tokyo we can find the Ueno Park with its ancient temples and the Shinobazu pond. The Himeji castle, Hyōgo prefecture, is surrounded by a labyrinth-like wood of cherry trees, while the Hirosaki Castle, Aomori prefecture, is famous for its 2,600 cherry trees. Also, Mt. Yoshino, Nara prefecture, is where 100.000 cherry trees stand out on top of the mountain.

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Hanami

About Hanami, or the Flower viewing.

In Japan, spring is synonymous with Hanami. Written with the kanji: Hana 花  “flower” and mi 見 “viewing”, the word hanami means enjoying the beauty of blooming flowers. In particular, it refers to the Sakura: cherry blossom.

To understand the profound meaning of this magical tradition, Yosa Buson’s haiku is perfect:

“Cherry petals 

in the rice-seedling water, 

moon and stars.”

In these words we read the aesthetic symbolism behind the relationship between nature and human beings in which everything becomes harmonious. Spring is, in fact, a “rebirth”, therefore a renovation of the soul and of the spirit. The falling flowers indicate the transience of things. As flowers reach the peak when they bloom and then fall to be carried away by water, beauty is therefore wonderful and ephemeral at the same time. In Japanese, we can summarize this concept in the small sentence 物の哀れ, “mono no aware”. This aesthetic concept expresses a strong emotional participation toward the beauty of nature and human life, with a consequent nostalgic feeling linked to its incessant change.

Photo Credits:  regex.info

The Roots 

Yoshino hills is where cherry trees originated in Japan. The legend says that in the VII century the priest En-no-Ozuno planted some sakura trees casting a curse on them. The curse would hit anyone who dared to cut the trees down. However, there are those who say that the hanami came from China, at the time of the Tang dynasty, which influenced Japan in the Nara period. Originally, there where the  “ume” (prunus trees) to offer viewers the spectacle of their flowering. During the Heian period (794-1185) however, the Japanese imperial court moved to Kyoto where the unparalleled beauty of the cherry trees outshone that of the prunus.

Murasaki Shikibu, the court-lady that wrote the “Genji Monogatari”, the first novel ever written, used the word “hanami” related to the cherry blossom viewing for the first time. In the beginning, it was a rite restricted to an elite of nobles, dignitaries, samurai and poets, that drank sake and recited haiku on the beauty of the cherry blossom. In the following Edo period, the hanami spread to lower classes as well, eventually becoming a national holiday. This was also thanks to the shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune that planted areas of cherry blossom trees all over Japan.

Photo Credits:  kabekin.com

Between Beauty and Transience, Hanami today

The hanami takes place in a period of time that extends from March to April when sakura reaches their blooming season. Traditionally, people gather together laying out their blue tarps under the trees and, armed with their bento, enjoy the spectacle of nature eating traditional dishes. Among them we can find the hanami-dango, rice dumpling of three colors: pink, white and green, accompanied by green tea and lots of sake. Another typical dish is the sakura mochi, a sweet made of red bean paste and rice, all wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf. And the enjoyment goes on until the evening arrives, culminating in the Yozakura 夜桜 when the night is illuminated by chochin, traditional colored lantern made of paper.

Photo Credits:  thespruce.com

Chasing after the best view

Japan is completely invaded by the simultaneous blooming of the trees awaken from the winter torpor, something that strikes the heart as well as the eye.  But there are places where the charm of nature is more overwhelming than anywhere else. Among the must-see spots there is the Maruyama park in Kyoto, that is famous for the Shidarezakura, the unique weeping sakura. In  Tokyo we can find the Ueno Park with its ancient temples and the Shinobazu pond. The Himeji castle, Hyōgo prefecture, is surrounded by a labyrinth-like wood of cherry trees, while the Hirosaki Castle, Aomori prefecture, is famous for its 2,600 cherry trees. Also, Mt. Yoshino, Nara prefecture, is where 100.000 cherry trees stand out on top of the mountain.
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