April 11, 2012

Hanami Party: Chu-hi and Cherry Blossoms

Last night, a big group of us Kandai students made our way to Osaka Castle, carrying tarpaulin mats, beer, Chu-hi (cocktail in a can), vodka, snacks, bubbles, chocolate, cameras and card games. It was my first ever 'yozakura' (night cherry blossom) party. In somewhat related news, this morning also saw in my first ever Chu-hi related hangover.

Osaka Castle, lit up on a warm Spring evening
Hanami is serious business in Japan. To get the premium 'flower viewing' spots, it's not uncommon for employers to get their employees to sit outside for hours, holding down a space until the company's hanami party officially begins. As we left the Osaka Castle station exit, we even saw a man in a suit holding up a sign that said 'X Company's Hanami Party this way'. It's important to know exactly what patch of grass you will be occupying, and how to get there.

It's obvious what all the fuss is about. The cherry blossoms are painfully beautiful, and viewing them at night - yozakura - makes the experience all the more magical. The lights of the city and the lit-up castle acted as a backdrop for the frothy petals, and lanterns are strung between trees, so everything glows romantically. It's like being in a Miyazaki movie, or wandering in a very pink, candyfloss filled dream.
Food stalls!
Just as you thought I was getting all soppy and poetic, onto more important things: the grub. Everyone knows that at a hanami party, food and drink are almost more enjoyable than the actual cherry blossoms. Loud, garish food stalls line the path on the way to the castle, and the scents of fried noodles and octopus tentacles waft through the air, mingling with the perfume of the blossoms. I had takoyaki drenched in tangy sauce and sprinkled with seaweed flakes. Yum.

Chilling under a sakura tree.

The loud, crazy hanami party gang.
When we got to our spot, the drinks flowed, the snacks were devoured, and the conversation got slightly more frantic, as the alcohol consumption began to hinder our respective Japanese and English language skills. I personally suffered from a little too much liquid confidence in my own language ability, and found myself struggling to explain in Japanese the multiple meanings of 'perky nana'. (Which is first and foremost the name of a banana-flavoured chocolate bar in New Zealand).

I dressed up in florals with flowers in my hair for the occasion.
The sad thing about cherry blossoms is that they only last for a short time - maybe a week or two. Numerous haiku have been written using cherry blossoms as metaphors, for things that are beautiful but are gone too soon. I would like to take this opportunity to use cherry blossoms as a metaphor for the drinks at our Hanami party. They were also gone too soon.

Watch the video of our Hanami Party here!


  1. Better too few drinks than too many. You don't want to wake up face down in the bushes after one of those (though you probably wouldn't be alone at this time of year). Remember not to "chanpon" (drink different kinds of alcohol) too much either. The hangover is ten-times worse. Chu-hi: cheaper than beer, twice the punch, half the hangover. Nice writing. I'm enjoying your posts very much. You're very witty.

    1. Thank you very much! Yeah, so many drunk people in Japan this week, haha! We found someone else's vomit in our garden the other morning... it's just like being back home in New Zealand! =D