花より団子= Hana yori dango +お花見=Ohanami culture

March 1, 2011 in Japanese culture, Japanese song

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「ねえ、お花見に行かない?」
=  Nee ohanami ni ikanai?
= Hey,  do you want to go see the cherry blossoms?


「お団子はあるの?」
= Odango wa aru no?
= Are there “odango” (= sweet dumpling)

Hi, everyone!
After a long cold winter, I finally feel the hint of spring in the air.

Spring in Japanese is

:rrrr: = haru

春はもうそこまで来ています。

= Haru wa mou soko made kite imasu.

= Spring is just around the corner.

It’s my favorite season.
If you are planning to come to Japan, it would be nice to  visit in the spring. It’s a great chance to see our beautiful cherry blossoms.

Today’s guest teacher is Basil Farrow.  Remember him in ググるLesson? And this lesson is for his mom, La Carmina, the coolest Japan Goth blogger/TV reporter/author/journalist around. She will be hosting a Belgian TV documentary in Tokyo about what else?  Cherry blossom season!
(Go check her website La Carmina It is REALLY cool!!)

So this lesson is about = sakura = cherry blossoms!

OK, here we go! !onpu!


First of all, the above mentioned cherry blossoms are known, in Japanese as:

:rrrr: = さくら = sakura

In Japanese  flower(s) is = hana
So cherry blossoms flowers are called

:rrrr: 桜の花 = sakura no hana

Other related words:

桜の花が咲く= sakura no hana ga saku = cherry blossoms bloom


桜の花が散る = sakura no hana ga chiru = cherry blossoms fall


or 桜の花びらが散る = sakura no hanabira ga chiru
= the petals of cherry blossoms flutter down


Note :

•In olden days, we sent telegrams to announce whether or not someone had passed theie exams or not. If they pass them, the telegrams says サクラサク= sakura saku = He/she passed the exam and if they fail, it says サクラチル= sakura chiru

• A fake customer or decoy, by the way, is called サクラ = sakura.

Ex. 私がサクラになって来てあげようか。

= Watashi ga sakura ni natte kite ageyou ka?

= You want me to be a fake customer (for you and help you) to get real customers?

:u:

花吹雪 = hana fubuki =shower of blossom
(The literal meaning of 吹雪= fubiki is snow shower)

They start to bloom in late March and last through the beginning of April.
Sadly, they only last for about a week.

When the cherry blossoms start to bloom we say,

:u:

桜の花が咲き始める= sakura no hana ga saki hajimeru

A more formal way to say the same thing,

桜の花が開花する= sakura no hana ga kaika suru

= cherry blossoms come into bloom

Every spring, we hear the following on the weather report,

Ex. 東京で桜の開花宣言
= Tokyo de no sakura no kaika sengen
= The official declaration of blooming cherry blossoms in Tokyo

桜の開花予想
= sakura no kaika yosou

= estimation for blooming of cherry blossoms

桜の開花状況

= sakura no kaika joukyou

= the blooming cherry blossom report

There are many kinds of cherry blossoms (over 200 kinds!!) but when they talk about this forecast, they are based on cherry blossoms called ソメイヨシノ = somei yoshino.


The line connecting all the 桜の開花予想日 (=sakura no kaika yosoubi) of Japan is called 桜前線 = sakura zensen = cherry blossoms front

Every year, we hear on the weather report saying

Ex.桜前線が北上しています。

= Sakura zensen ga hokujou shiteimasu.

= The cherry blossom front is moving north.


(Note: Since Japan is a long island, cherry blossoms first start to bloom in the south = = minami )

We describe the way they bloom as follows,

五分咲き = gobuzaki = to bloom about 50 pct

:u:

七部咲き= hichibu zaki = to bloom about 70 pct

:u:

八部咲き = hachibu zaki = to bloom about 80 pc

:u:

満開 = mankai = full bloom (八分咲き = hachibuzaki is considered to be 満開 = mankai = full bloom)

So the weather forecast announce both


開花予想日 = kaika yosoubi = estimated date for blooming

and

満開予想日= mankai yosoubi = estimated date for full bloom

You can enjoy cherry blossoms in many places in Japan.

Temples, parks, river sides, mountains, etc.

but the famous locations that you can see beautiful cherry blossoms are called

:rrrr:桜の名所 = sakura no meisho

They are places where you can enjoy cherry blossoms illuminated by the lights at night.

夜桜= yozakura = cherry blossoms at night

Ex. 夜桜を見に行く = yozakura wo mini iku = to go see cherry blossoms at night


Viewing cherry blossoms is called

:rrrr: 花見 = hanami
or

:rrrr: お花見 = ohanami  (more polite)


Usually when we say (= hana) it refers to flowers in general but when we say 花見 (= hanami) it almost always refers to cherry blossoms (or occasionally  梅の花= ume no hana = Japanese plum)

Verb

:u:

お花見をする = (o) hanami wo suru = to view flowers

お花見に行く = (o) hanami ni iku = to go see flowers

It is said that this cherry blossom viewing tradition started in the 7th century or perhaps even earlier.
When we say 花見 = hanami = cherry blossom viewing 2 types of activities spring to mind.
One type of 花見(=hanami)focuses on appreciating the beauty of the cherry blossoms themselves.

But a lot time 花見 (= hanami) is just a wonderful excuse to have a party outside. We eat and drink (and occasionally even sing Karaoke or even dance. :roll: ) beneath the cherry blossom trees.


Many cherry blossoms viewing areas have a lot of 屋台 = yatai = food stands

In addition people bring their own drinks and food and have little picnics under the trees


or they have drinking parties under the trees.

:rrrr:宴会 = enkai =drinking party

and have

:rrrr:花見酒=hahami zake = drinking sake viewing cherry blossoms


Since everybody wants to have a drinking party under the beautiful cheery blossoms tree, it is always hard and hard to get a good spot.

:u:
場所取り = basho to(do)ri = to keep the place (for 花見= hanami)

Many companies send their 新入社員 (= shinnyuushainn) = new comers as its 幹事= kanji = party organizer to stake out a good spot. It’s not uncommon for them to go there early in the morning or even the night before the party!

So for a lot of people 花見 (= hanami) means to eat and drink near the cherry blossoms.
If you haven’t seen the lessons I made regarding drinking or alcohol related Japanese, you might wan to check those lessons now.

(= sake) lesson + 酔う(= you= to get drunk) lesson

Although Japanese have an international reputation for being shy and reserved, you will be surprised to see all the crazy antics that the Japanese people get up to as they drink, sing and dance under the beautiful flowers.
(I know, I know…. we have a very square image but once we get loosened up… it is out of control!)
For many Japanese, it is more fun to eat and drink than enjoy the flowers.
It is called

!to right! 花より団子 = hanayori dango = dumpling rather than flowers

:w: From the picture above:

「ねえ、お花見に行かない?」
= Nee, ohanami ni ikanai?
= Hey, do you want to go see the cherry blossoms?


「お団子はあるの?」

= Odango wa aru no?
= Are there “odango” (= sweet dumpling) ?

So this is a

:w: 団子 = dango = dumpling called 花見団子 = hanami dango

:u:

A typical  hanami dango has three different colored dumplings on a stick.
They are made of sweet sticky rice.

(Each color represents a season. White = snow → winter, pink = cherry blossoms spring, and green = plants and trees summer)

We also eat

:w: 桜餅 (= sakuramochi) in spring

The outside leaf is a real salted cherry blossom leaf and you eat it,too.

You will also see a lot of other sakura related food or items in Japan in April.

•桜ごはん = sakura gohan = light pink rice cooked with salted cherry blossom,

桜ワイン= sakura waine = cherry blossoms wine,

桜茶 = sakuracha =cherry blossoms tea

(Note: This tea is considered to be good luck and and we serve it at engagement gathering, etc.)

There are even cakes with cherry blossoms flowers.

:u:



We also have tea cups, plates, table mats with cherry blossom design, etc. etc.


For many Japanese people= sakura = cherry blossoms are very special flowers.
Some think that it is because = sakura only last for a short period of time.  The beauty of the flowers won’t last long and it reminds you how short life is.

But more than anything with the appearance of cherry blossoms, we feel the coming of spring, and they also symbolize a new start of the school year.

Most Japanese schools start in spring.  (So if you are born on March 31 and your friend is born on April 1st, you two will end up being one year apart at school.)

Usually 卒業式 = sotsugyoushiki = graduation ceremonies are held in late March and 入学式(=nyuugakushiki = entrance ceremonies are held in the beginning of April.

Many school yards have cherry blossoms so that it is customary for new students, especially new first graders (小学校一年生= shougakkou ichinensei) to have their pictures taken beneath the cherry blossom trees.

The image of sakura is not only associated with new school years but also corresponds with the time new employees start to work at Japanese companies as freshmen or freshwomen.

桜の季節 = sakura no kisetsu = cherry blossom season is a season to meet new people and also say good-bye to students.

Some graduate from the University or high school and start to work in spring.

Not just students but some businessmen also get transferred to new branches every spring.

Extras!   Sakura related songs:

There are tons of  songs related to =sakura = cherry blossoms

The first one is a very traditional one.

Almost all Japanese learn this song when they get to elementary school.

!onpu! さくらさくら(or さくら)= sakura sakura (or sakura)


I will post a few popular sakura related songs below.

Actually there are a lot of さくら = sakura songs.

I just want to show you how Japanese people feel about sakura in their life.

!onpu! FUNKY MONKEY BABYS = sakura

!onpu! コブクロ= kobukuro = sakura

!onpu!ケツメイシ=KETUMEISHI さくら= sakura

AKB48 has three songs related to = sakura

This is one of them.

!onpu! 桜の栞 = sakura no shiori

マギー先生より= Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei

あと、数週間で綺麗な桜があらゆる所で見られます。

= Ato suushuukan de kireina sakura ga arayuru tokoro de miraremasu.

= In a few more weeks, you will be able to see beautiful cherry blossoms everywhere.

皆さんも是非、この季節に”お団子”を食べに日本に来て下さいね。 :)

= Minasan mo zehi kono kisetu ni “odango” wo tabe nihon ni kite kudasaine.

= Come to Japan in this season and eat “dumplings”!