Translated by MATCHA
Finding The Perfect Spot: Saving A Hanami Site
Getting the perfect spot for a hanami party doesn't have to be a daunting task. Here we explain some good guidelines to follow in order to save the perfect space for you and your friends.
Written by Shinnosuke Saito
One of the most important and difficult tasks of having a successful hanami party is finding the perfect spot to sit. For the vast majority of company hanami parties, this task is left up to the newest members of the team, who might end up having to save their place for several hours all alone. Sakura only blossom for a brief period each year, so having the right spot to fully enjoy both the flowers and the party itself can feel like a rather stressful task if you’re not prepared.
Here is our advice for those planning their first hanami party.
1. Don’t Take More Space Than You Need
Taking up an exceedingly large space is a definite no-no when it comes to reserving a spot in a public park. Not only is it considered rude, but it also comes across as quite selfish, especially if you are the only one reserving the space all day. While you should absolutely save enough room for the number of people in your party, don’t take up more space than each person can reasonably sit down in.
2. At Least 1 Person Must Keep The Space
When you have found the right spot, at least one person is going to have to stay there all day long to reserve it. If you just put your picnic sheets down and then head back to work, it is very likely that the security guards in the area will remove the sheet.
Furthermore, some parks do not permit people to sit on the grass or too close to the cherry trees themselves, so you might be asked to move if you are sitting in the wrong place. Make sure to check the venue beforehand in order to avoid these problems.
3. Weigh Down or Fix Your Sheet with a Peg
Spring can be quite windy, and if you don’t weigh down your sheets, or pin them to the ground with a peg, they will soon blow away on you. Use rocks, coolers, shoes, or anything else you have brought with you to keep your sheet in place.
Using pegs is permitted only if you are seated some distance from the cherry trees themselves. If you are sitting very close to them, these pegs may damage the roots of the tree, and are therefore not permitted.
4. Save Your Seat Early
Although this depends largely on the blooming season, location of the hanami, and timing of your particular party, the majority of people will start saving their spot either very early in the morning, or even the night before, in the case of very popular places. If you are planning a party on the weekend or a national holiday, you should definitely reserved your spot the night before. Bear in mind though, this means that someone will have to spend all night outside at that spot in order to keep it. If you are responsible for planning the hanami, then it may be up to you to take care of this.
If you do find yourself having to spend the night out to reserve your place, dress appropriately for the weather, bring extra blankets, even a sleeping bag if you want, and of course consider picking up some kairo pocket heaters as well. Try to bring some things to keep yourself entertained all night too.
5. Look Out for the Crows!
Cunning, fast, and fearless, crows can be the bane of any picnic. They are especially good at swooping in and stealing food or dragging bags away and tearing them open to get at whatever is inside. If you can, you may consider bringing all of your hanami items to the party location in a suitcase or another solid container, in order to foil any plans the crows may have of stealing your things.
6. Find A Good Spot Reasonably Close to the Facilities
Public parks have limited toilet facilities at best, a few portable loos, or none at all at worst. It is vital to know where the nearest bathrooms are when planning out where to stake your claim during hanami season. Double check either online or in person where they are before the cherry blossoms are out, and try to find a good spot that’s about 100m or so away from them. This is a comfortable distance that balances ease of use with hygiene concerns.
Saving a spot for a hanami party is not only a hard job, but also one of the most important tasks of the party-holder. If you keep these rules in mind though, you will be able to find the perfect spot and have a great hanami with your friends, family, or co-workers.
If you’d like more advice on hosting a hanami party, check out: 15 Items To Make Your Hanami Great!, and Clean Up The Right Way: Dealing With Trash After A Hanami.