Must-have items for Hanami party
Having a Hanami party among Japanese may become an experience you will never forget. You will find below the must-have items to fully enjoy Hanami party. Most of them can be purchased at 100 yen shops.
Hanami party goods sold at 100 yen shops
A typical picnic sheet in Japan is a plastic sheet. It will be better to get larger one so that you will have enough space to place food and drinks.
Portable floor-cushion / Folding chair
If the ground is wet or uneven, your bottom may get cold or sore sitting on a picnic sheet. A zabuton, a small thin floor-cushion, or a small folding chair will help you to sit comfortably.
You need to take the garbage away with you when the party is over. It is better to bring a little more garbage bags than you think you need.
Disposable body warmer
It is still chilly during the cherry blossom season which is from mid-March through early April. A body warmer is a must-have item for a Hanami party. The iron powder inside the warmer produces heat. One type of body warmer is to be held in the hand to get warmth and another type has adhesive and placed it on the underwear to keep your back warm.
Paper cups, Paper plates & Disposable chopsticks
Paper cups, paper plates and disposable wooden chopsticks are very useful when having a party outside as they are cheap and light.
Wet wipes to clean your hands, etc. are called wet tissues in Japan. They are useful to clean your hands or clothes when you drop or spill food on your clothe as there may not be water readily available near where you have a Hanami party.
Bottle opener / Wine opener
You will need a bottle opener or a wine opener to open a bottle of soft drinks, wine or other alcohol beverages.
Items for a serious Hanami party
Use a straw mat instead of a plastic picnic sheet. As a straw mat is thicker than a plastic sheet, the wet or uneven ground will not bother you much.
A goza mat (straw mat) is not made of plastic. It is a thin mat made of the same material as that of tatami.
Packable wine glasses
Most of compactly-packable wine glasses are made of plastic. As they will not be broken even if you drop them, they are ideal to drink wine outdoor. They are for those who want to drink wine from a glass and not from a paper cup.
It is designed to carry a bottle of wine. It is available in a variety of colors and designs.
Battery-type hand warmer
As it is powered by a rechargeable battery, it is reusable. Many of them available in the market are small enough to fit in your hand.
Manners for Hanami party and things you should know
Reserve a picnic spot on a first-come- first-served basis
It is a common practice to reserve a picnic spot in advance by spreading a picnic sheet. Sometimes the spot where only a sheet is left spread may not be taken as reserved. In that case, someone needs to be on the spot till the party starts. And reserving a larger space than you need is not a good manner.
Check if Hanami party is allowed beforehand
It is not that a picnic party is allowed everywhere. There are places, including parks and campuses, where a party is not allowed even if there are many cherry trees. Please make sure if it is allowed beforehand on the website or by contacting them.
Do not leave the garbage behind
Most of the sites for Hanami do not have garbage bins in place. You must not leave the garbage behind. Please try to minimize the amount of garbage and be sure to take the garbage with you to where you are staying.
Be sure to have items to keep you warm
It is still chilly in the cherry blossom season. It may get colder especially in the evening. Be sure to take disposable body warmers, a blanket and/or a jacket with you.
Find a toilet
Please note that there will be a long line in front of a toilet at the Hanami sites. And some of the sites have no toilet. You’d better find a nearby toilet beforehand. Although many of convenience stores will let you use the toilet, it is not a good manner to use the toilet without buying anything. Something cheap like a pack of chewing gum or a bottle of tea is just fine, so please be sure to buy something. It is a nice way to show your appreciation.
Get a Hanami bento at a department store
Get food for a Hanami party at the basement food floor of department store
If you want to enjoy food at a Hanami party, Hanami bento is recommended. The bento for Hanami looks pretty as the colorful ingredients like carrot is cut in the shape of a cherry blossom petal. And as vegetables and fishes in season are used, you will be able to enjoy the taste of spring in Japan. The basement food floor of department store is a good place to get a Hanami bento. You will find all sorts of food from Japanese to Western and many shops have a few types of Hanami bento. As there are so many choices, you will have a trouble choosing one.
Hanami bento from major department stores (Isetan Shinjuku & Daimaru Tokyo)
Isetan Shinjuku is closely located to Shinjuku-sanchome Station on the Tokyo Metro line. Quite a few stores are found on the basement food floor and a wide variety of Hanami bento from a luxurious bento which is priced at about 5,000 yen to a healthy bento with lots of vegetables is available. As a park called Shinjuku-gyoen National Garden where there are 1,300 cherry trees is close to Isetan Shinjuku, you can have a Hanami party there. But please note that no alcohol beverage is allowed in the park.
*Hanami-zushi set with Fukutsui / Available from March 20 through early April.
Daimaru Tokyo, next to Tokyo Station, also has a good basement food floor. You will find not only bento but also a rich selection of cheese and wine . As there are dessert shops on the 1st floor, you can find a dessert too. You can go to Ueno Park by train from Tokyo Station. The park is about a 2-minute walk away from Ueno Station. A total of 2 million people come to the park for cherry blossom viewing. You will see many people having a party on a picnic sheet. When the sun sets, about 1,300 lanterns are lit up so that you can enjoy Hanami also in the evening.
*Tender stem broccoli bara-chirashi (mixed sushi) with Shiretoko-zushi / Available from March 1 through April 10.
3-14-1, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Shinjuku-gyoen National Garden
11, Naitomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Closed: Mondays (Monday is open if it falls on a national holiday, and the day after that will be closed)
* Open every day during the cherry blossom season
Admission: Adults 200 yen/ Junior high school, Elementary school students 50 yen/
No charge for children under school age
1-9-1, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. (Open until 9:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays except holidays, the basement and 1st fl. open until 9:00 p.m. on weekdays)
Open year-round (New Year’s day is excluded.)
Ueno Onshi Park
Ikenohata 3-chome, Uenokoen, Taito-ku, Tokyo
5:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Sakuramochi is a rice cake with sweet red bean paste inside and wrapped with a leaf of cherry tree which is picked in salt water. It is a confectionery with a scent of cherry blossom. As it is eaten without removing the leaf, you will enjoy the taste that the salty leaf and the sweet bean paste are finely mixed together. Sakuramochi usually is slightly pink-colored. As sakuramochi in Area of Kanto and Kansai is different, why not try both of them and see the difference.
Kanto style: “Chomeiji Temple”
The Kanto style sakuramochi has a crepe-like wrapping around bean paste and has an oblong shape. The wrapping is made with flour and is baked. The texture of the wrapping is soft and moist.
Kansai Style: “Domyoji Temple”
The Kansai style has a round shape and bean paste is wrapped with a rice cake. The rice cake is made from glutinous rice which is dried after steamed and then roughly grinded. The rice cake has lumpy texture.