We've all been waiting for it – hanami that is. But how exactly did these blossom viewings get started? According to Nihon Shoki, the earliest chronicle of Japan, the first hanami banquet dates all the way back to 812. Cherry blossom viewing was originally exclusive to the imperial court and other elites, but it quickly started spreading among the samurai class.
After shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune encouraged people to plant these beautiful trees all around the country in the 18th century, hanami gradually became an entertainment fit for commoners as well. Obviously eagerly anticipated during the cold blaze of winter, the cherry blossoms symbolise spring in Japan, and sakura-themed products take over store shelves nationwide long before the first blooms appear on trees. That you probably knew – but read on for a few less obvious hanami facts.
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