Photo: DHC UK
Every spring, without fail, Japan gets blanketed by a sea of white and pink flowers. From January, the blossoms paint the country, starting from Okinawa and making their way down to Tokyo and Kyoto by March or April.
However, given the weather we have a begrudging relationship with, cherry blossoms are never going to be a thing in Singapore. The trees need 700 to 900 hours of chill before they can bloom and produce the pretty pink sakura that define them, and unless it starts to snow, like that one time it did in 1949, then the only things that will blanket our streets are PMDs and techno music.
When the cherry blossoms come into full bloom, thousands make passage to Japan to get front-row seats to this miracle of nature. This is hanami, or flower viewing. It’s a simple contentment, and it’s very much a personal experience - do it your own way, much as you would enjoy other simple pleasures in life, like a day at the beach or Four Fingers.
That said, we Singaporeans do appreciate some structure in our lives, even (or perhaps especially) when it comes to fun. So here we’ve compiled our top five ways for you to hanami in the comfort of your own home.
1. See their cousins
Photo: The Straits Times
We found an article by The Smart Local detailing some spots within our very own 719.9 square-kilometres where you can get a pretty similar effect for your twice-a-week Instagram posts, so if you’re not averse to travelling across the island, get yourself a Grab and head over to one of these spots.
2. Have a picnic downstairs
NEA and NParks love bougainvillea: they’re everywhere! Grab yourself a picnic mat -- if you don’t have one, cutting an IKEA bag open works too -- and head to the nearest bougainvillea shrub. It doesn’t matter which ones, just pick your favourite location (read: nearest), set up shop and squint really hard.
3. Make your own
Photo: Taro's Origami
You can get origami paper from Daiso, and these instructions seem easy enough! The upside to this is that you’re no longer limited to just seeing them in white and pink. If you’re a ride-or-die death metal fan but have a secret soft spot for all things Japanese, you could make yours black or out of studded leather. Versatility!
For kicks, here’s a how-to for all kinds of flowers so you’ll never have to go to the botanic gardens ever again.
4. Visit Starbucks
We’ll say it: the pink sakura drinks (and summer merch) look really good. We’re not sure if it’s on the menu indefinitely, but you might get lucky with their secret menu.
It’s not actually got anything to do with real cherry blossoms, and it’s only tangentially related to spring (which would long over by now, even if we had other seasons besides ‘27 but feels like 32’), but technically…
Hanami is a big deal because of the cherry blossoms’ short lifespan. They’re appreciated because their ephemeral quality symbolises the transient nature of life.
Reflect on the ephemeral quality of the $7-8 in your wallet with Starbucks.
5. Download this screensaver.
So if you’ve always wanted to hanami, but don’t want to go all the way to Japan or, god forbid, pay $11 to enter the Flower Dome, we’ve got you covered.