Source: Gaijin Pot
The start of spring in Japan is all about the sakura, or cherry blossoms. From hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties to cherry blossom-flavored drinks and snacks to baked goods with cherry blossoms sprinkled on top to cherry blossom-themed makeup (not to mention those famous Japanese KitKats)—it’s hard to escape cherry blossom mania during March and April.
There’s got to be more when it comes to spring in Japan than cherry blossoms, right? After a barrage of events that your social contracts oblige you to attend—Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties, bonenkai (year-end party), shinnenkai (New Year’s party), Valentine’s Day, we’re tired of socializing. Do we really need to brave the cold by gathering underneath cherry trees with the same people while peppering forced conversation with expressions of the obvious? Statements like “Kirei desu ne (the flowers sure are pretty)” and “Samui desu ne (It sure is cold)” seem to make up the bulk of all small talk around this time of year.
Well, if the annual ritual of celebrating the natural cycle of rebirth in Japan by cramming hundreds of people on electric blue tarps to watch pink petals is just too much for you to bear this year, then here are five seasonal activities for you to do this spring that don’t involve hanami.
1. Sample new sake
Is the allure of free alcoholic beverages the only reason why you begrudgingly RSVP to the company hanami party year after year? This spring, skip the middleman and head straight to the source of free-flowing alcohol and imbibe to your heart’s delight.