The "Hanami" はなみ is an old tradition in Japan which is related to the cherry blossoms every year and dating back to the Nara Period (700s A.D.). The Japanese watch with great admiration the “ume” うめ tree blossoms in a tradition that was limited to the imperials and the elite but then introduced to the larger society. Later it became a festive event (like Easter) when people go under the ume trees or Sakura さくら (cherry blossoms) and drink sake さけ (a kind of wine) while having their lunch and spending a joyful time.
Most Japanese schools and public buildings have cherry blossom trees outside of them. It’s also heavily planted in shrines, temples, and many public gardens.
The Hanami festivals are celebrated across Japan each year while the Japanese follow the blossoming of Sakura which starts in January in the southern parts of the Japanese islands then moves up to the north passing by Tokyo till it reaches Hokkaido, by mid-March or beginning of April. The festival is dedicated to the beauty of the cherry blossom (Sakura) and for many it’s a chance to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.
The Sakura blossoms once a year for a very short of time and it is very rich in symbolic meanings, regarding its beauty and its nature of being fragile and dies very quickly. It’s unfortunate if you missed the blooming of Sakura.
Unfortunately, thousands of Japanese missed the beauty and joy of Sakura this year because of the triple disaster that hit Japan.