Hanami means “flower-viewing” in Japanese. The custom goes back a long way in Japan. It is believed to date back to the 8th century, when it was plum-blossoms that everyone went to see, but the emphasis soon shifted to cherry-blossoms. A hanami makes an appearance in the 11th-century Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji). Although in theory you can have a hanami for any kind of flower, it almost always refers to sakura – cherry.
High Park, in Toronto, has a very fine avenue of cherry trees. They reached their peak blossoming point this past weekend, and I took my camera out on Saturday morning. I arrived around 7.30 am, but the park was already full of people admiring the trees. Many of them had brought picnic baskets and blankets, and somewhere on the other side of the cherry orchard someone was playing a fiddle. People were having their photos taken under the trees – I saw at least four engagement parties, and a couple of graduation photos being carefully set up in front of the blossoms. There were several people in traditional kimonos, and a party of very elegant women in beautiful silk saris who gave the cherry trees some serious competition. Many of the cherry trees in High Park were given to the city by Japan as a gesture of friendship, and it seems we also received the hanami at the same time!
There are five photos in this gallery. (Click on any photo to launch.)