Translated by Sandy Lau
Guide To Packing Hanami Picnic Essentials: Picnic Under Cherry Blossoms
Written by MATCHA
When spring rolls around, cherry blossom-viewing parties, or "hanami," are a beloved tradition in Japan. Wouldn't you like to have a picnic under blooming sakura trees? Well, there are several handy items for a seamless, seasonal hanami. We'll introduce a guide for our picnic essentials!
What to Pack for Hanami?
Springtime in Japan is synonymous with the beloved tradition of hanami. This annual cherry blossom viewing is an event you can’t miss when these fleeting pink petals are in full bloom.
Of course, famed sakura (cherry blossoms) sites can be enjoyed in a stroll. However, a picnic under the ethereal pink buds would be an unforgettable memory as everyone festively gathers around with food and drinks.
Now, you may be wondering what items to bring.
We’ll help eliminate those worries! This guide to hanami essentials and convenient items will be handy to have when prepping for a sunny spring outing.
1. Bring Bento Boxes and Side Dishes
There's no hanami without bento boxes and side dishes! When celebrating the arrival of spring, you should bring essential picnic foods in compact bento boxes—carefully packed lunches—that can either be prepared at home or bought at supermarkets and convenience stores.
If you're planning to purchase food at convenience stores, there are even side dish corners with options that perfectly pair with bubbly drinks and non-alcoholic beverages. There are even vegan and plant-based snacks available at popular convenience store chains, including Seven-Eleven, Lawson, and FamilyMart.
The trick for choosing snacks is having a good balance of salty and sweet options. And it's perfectly fine to bring a store-bought hanami bento, too!
Where to Purchase: Convenience stores and supermarkets.
2. Pack Paper Plates, Disposable Chopsticks, and Cups
So, now we've got our beverages, snacks, and bento boxes for hanami. But an important question remains: How are we going to eat and drink?
To avoid this agonizing situation, don’t forget to prepare paper plates and disposable chopsticks. We also recommend plastic cups over paper cups because they are firmer and more durable.
Sometimes our drinking cup can get mixed up with other picnic-goers. You won’t go wrong bringing a permanent marker to write your names on platic cups beforehand!
Where to Purchase: Convenience stores, supermarkets, etc. Disposable chopsticks that come with bento boxes can be purchased at convenience stores.
3. Bring a Picnic Sheet
Although you'll find benches at parks, it's common for hanami-goers to lay out a picnic sheet. Be sure to bring a tarp that's suitable to seat the number of guests attending. Sometimes the ground will be hard and uneven, so we recommend prepping a thick picnic sheet.
Where to Purchase: general stores such as Don Quijote. There are also a few convenience stores and drugstores where you can purchase waterproof tarps.
4. Have Wet Tissues and Toilet Paper on Hand
While there are plenty of public restrooms in Japan, you may quickly notice that paper towels are far and few between. So it's handy (no pun intended) to have wet tissues on hand if fingers become dirty or someone accidentally spills their drinks. A portable bottle of antibacterial wet wipes (photo) can easily be found at convenience stores and pharmacies.
It’s also convenient to have toilet paper with you. Similar to paper towels, there is sometimes no toilet paper in portable toilets depending on the hanami venue.
Where to Purchase: convenience stores, drugstores, etc.
5. Prepare On-The-Go Garbage Bags
After your hanami picnic is over, there may be more garbage than anticipated. It is Japanese etiquette to take responsibility for your trash and clean up after yourselves. Neatly sort cans, bottles, and burnable and non-burnable trash before disposing it at designated garbage areas.
It’s convenient to have garbage bags in several large, medium, and small sizes.
Where to Purchase: convenience stores or supermarkets. Reusable shopping bags are also an eco-friendly choice.
6. Handy Items to Have at Your Hanami
Use a Landmark
From office workers to college students, there are plenty of groups partaking in hanami. It may be helpful to locate your guests with a landmark item, such as plushy, for those arriving late or returning from the bathroom.
This will be useful when the weather is unstable, or rain clouds are on the forecast. Be sure to pack them in your bags beforehand.
Cardboard can either be used as a cushion when the ground is hard or a table when assembled correctly. It’s a surprisingly useful item to have on hand.
Bring a Blanket for Your Lap and a Jacket
Despite it being spring, there will be some chilly days during the hanami period. It would be best to have a lap blanket or some outer wear with you.
Prep Picnic Supplies for a Fun Hanami!
Now that your bag of picnic party essentials is packed, all that’s left to do is enjoy hanami! Savor the surreal scenery of pale pink and white cherry blossoms against a brilliant blue sky.
Original Author: Saito Shinnosuke
This article is the 2020 edition of an article published on April 8, 2014.