'Hanami' Manners Matter
March 21 marked the beginning of 2017 sakura season in Tokyo and citizens are getting ready for hanami (flower viewing parties). Tourists also want to experience hanami but some don't know the proper etiquette, as media outlets are reporting on their bad behavior. So, let's have a lesson in manners before we see you on the news!
4. Don't Touch the Trees
In recent years, the numbers of tourists to Japan have been dramatically increasing. However, not all of the visitors understand the rules of the country. Japanese news broadcasts have reported on the foreigners, specifically Chinese tourists, climbing sakura trees for the perfect selfie and eventually breaking some of them because the trees are quite fragile. Some cultures might accept tree climbing, but cherry blossom trees are so delicate that you might break the branches by applying pressure while touching them. Also, avoid shaking the trees to make the petals fall, which ruins the already short hanami season for others. Furthermore, besides their fragility, cherry trees are susceptible to bacteria from humans. Therefore, please stay away from the trees while enjoying the beauty. Do not touch or climb them.
3. Don't Be Trashy
Japanese people are known around the world for keeping their country clean, even during outdoor gatherings, where it's sometimes hard to find bins. It's not the right thing to do, but some people feel that having no bins around might mean throwing your trash anywhere you please. This attitude is definitely not acceptable in Japan. Here, we collect all our trash and throw it away when we find a bin. Also, please separate the rubbish into the appropriate bins. It's important to recognize the Japanese terms for this:
不燃物 (ふねんぶつ) - not combustible or unburnable goods, including plastic containers, utensils and bags
可燃物 (かねんぶつ) - combustible or burnable goods such as food, paper items and wooden chopsticks
ペットボトル (PET bottles) - Polyurethane plastic bottles, sometimes drink cans are also collected in this bin as well
Thanks for keeping the environment clean!
2. Don't Take up Space
Since hanami is such a popular activity, it might be hard to get a space to sit if you come late. It's common knowledge that if you arrive earlier you should save the spot for your friends. However, because space is really scarce, please take only as much space as you need for your group so that everyone will get a chance to enjoy the beautiful flowers.
1. Don't Go Overboard
Be mindful of your surroundings in all situations, a condition Japanese people call "reading the air" (空気を読む, kuuki wo yomu). During hanami, it's fine to drink (it's basically a Japanese tradition to drink with friends and family, relaxing under the flowers), but please control yourself. Of course this applies to locals as well. Also, be aware of the noise your group is generating. In a larger area like Yoyogi Park, it's common to hear music blaring from some of the groups, but both yelling and screaming are generally unacceptable.
Have a nice hanami season!