Cherry Blossoms Are in Full Bloom In Japan! Try This Sake That Goes Well with Sakura Season!

09 Apr 2020

Significance of Cherry Blossoms (Sakura) in Japan

For hundreds of years, Japanese cherry blossoms have held several significant meanings to Japanese people. It is much more than just a flower, it is part of an age-old philosophy and today, the emblem of an entire nation. The cherry blossom also symbolizes Japan internationally, as it often serves as a diplomatic gift when officials are invited abroad.

The tradition of hanami (litearally “flower watching) started in Japan in the Heian period (794-1185). It usually involves admiring cherry blossoms with family, friends or co-workers. Based on the Japanese philosophy of mono no aware, appreciating the beauty of short-lived things, hanami is an activity that promotes self-reflection.

Although the cherry blossoms are admired when they are still beautiful and in bloom with all their petals, they drop to the ground and wither in record time before the eyes of those who observe them. The cherry blossoms are tragically short-lived,  and so is the life of the man who admires them. It is a visual reminder that our lives, too, are fleeting.

Sakura is also a signal of the beginning of spring, a time of renewal and optimism. With the blooming season coinciding with the beginning of the Japanese fiscal year, it also brings hope and new dreams for students who start their first day of school and graduate recruits  starting their first jobs.

While sakura blossoms are stunning for hanami participants, food is also an important factor. The teasing proverb "dumplings rather than flowers" (hana yori dango) hints at the real priorities for most cherry blossom viewers, meaning that people are more interested in the food and drinks accompanying a hanami party than actually viewing the flowers themselves. Thus food has become an integral part of hanami tradition. Popular hanami foods include hanami dango, sakura mochi, chirashi sushi, inari sushi, and futomaki. Food companies, restaurants, and stores also release their own limited edition versions of sakura themed foods and drinks.

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 Recommended Sake - Kotsuzumi Junmai Ginjo Hanafubuki from Nishiyama Brewery 

Founded in 1849, Nishiyama is a classically modern brewery, respecting its history while forging ahead with new styles for the future. They are located deep in the heart of Hyogo, one of the great sake regions of the country, and blessed with the best conditions to grow premium sake rice, which they are able to do in the areas surrounding the brewery. They also limit production to remain sustainable and to maintain their resources and outstanding quality.

Kotsuzumi Junmai Ginjo Hanafubuki is a beautiful clear blue bottled sake, which goes well with delicate Japanese dishes such as sashimi, sushi, vinegar flavored dishes, etc. It is restrained and versatile sake that begins with a delicate light nose of melon rind and young green fruit, with light texture that creates a balanced and transcendent sake.

In Japanese, hana (花) means flower and fubuki (吹雪) means snow storm. So, hanafubuki literally means ‘flower snow storm’ – or more commonly, ‘cherry blossom blizzard’. It happens once a year when the sakura petals begin to fall. In the haiku world, "hanafubuki" is synonymous with spring, as the appearance of cherry blossoms falling in the form similar to snow is characteristic of the spring season.

The label, designed by artist Hirosuke Watanuki, whose works are found in museums of Europe, Africa, and Lisbon National Modern Art Museum, depicts “hanafubuki” over the Mt Fuji. This is a sake that represents the beauty of cherry blossoms!

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