Hanami is a Japanese term referring to cherry blossom viewing. The event is always highly anticipated in Japan, with special forecasts announced on the radio and TV that inform citizens of when to catch the bloom of the cherry blossom trees, commonly referred to as Sakura trees. The trees only bloom for a period of one or two weeks which make the event even more special. Typically, viewing parties are held throughout Japan where family and friends would congregate in parks under the cherry blossom trees and have a picnic or a barbeque. This is a tradition that dates back hundreds of years and is featured across works of art, literature, and anime.
In this week’s article we highlight anime which have reflected the spirit of Hanami by either having an episode featuring their own viewing party or an anime which plot speaks to the meaning of the Sakura Tree and utilizes it as a key symbol in its storytelling. For this list, we sought to rank anime in order of how well they meet these standards as well as how enjoyable the anime is to watch. Please enjoy.
10. Koufuku Graffiti (Gourmet Girl Graffiti)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2015 – March 2015
Ryou Machiko is a young Japanese woman living on her own in Tokyo Japan. An artist by trade, she does all she can to shape new food to be the most spectacular and inviting dishes they can be; however, when it comes down to the taste, it leaves much to be desired. The news that her cooking was not as great as it appeared coupled with living alone cast a blue feeling over Ryou until her aunt announced that a middle-schooler named Kirin Morino, Ryou’s apparent second cousin, was set to move in with her. To her surprise, the warm company and liveliness of Kirin shaped Ryou’s cooking to be just as delicious as its appearance suggested. Journey with Ryou and Kirin as they discover the benefits that good company can have on one’s home and cooking while living in Tokyo.
A slice of life and cooking anime, Gourmet Girl Graffiti brings the viewer into a rather intimate and homey atmosphere with Ryou and Kirin. It makes this particular list thanks to its second episode, which focuses on the protagonists having a picnic at the park and attending the local festival for their own viewing party. The experience they take the viewer through acts an entertaining guide for how to celebrate Hanami and all the great things there are to do both during the day and night. If you want a hint of what a casual viewing party with good food looks like, tune in.
- Episodes: 201
- Aired: April 2006 – March 2010
One fateful day, space aliens invaded feudal Japan and outlawed the use of swords, which essentially leaves Samurai obsolete. So Gintoki becomes a yorozuya along with his friends and a giant dog, spending their days getting into hijinx and mischief while trying to make a living and avoid being killed by gangsters, assassins, law enforcement, among other things.
Whether you are new to the anime community or have been deeply immersed for a couple of years, chance are that you have heard of Gintama. If there is one thing you can be sure of, aside from it’s absurd plot, is its satirical attitude on current events and its unique and at times over-the-top sense of humour. For those looking for a Hanami viewing experience with that over-the-top and entertaining feel, check out episode 175.
8. Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai (Tada Never Falls in Love)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2018 – June 2018
Mitsuyoshi Tada is a stoic young man who lives with his sister Yui above their grandfather’s café where they help out. A hobbyist photographer and member of his high school’s photography club, Mitsuyoshi journeys to the park to capture the cherry blossom trees in full bloom. While there, he stumbles across a foreign exchange student from Luxembourg named Teresa Wagner who is lost with no way of contacting her friend. Mitsuyoshi steps into help and thus begins a tale of renewal and, possibly, new love.
Tada Never Falls in Love immediately takes the viewer to a park where our protagonist is snapping pictures of sakura trees, imagery that continues to carry throughout both the opening title sequence and across episodes in the story. The use of imagery of a change in season is appropriate as Mitsuyoshi is swept into the path of Teresa Wagner and a new chapter and experience opens up in his life that causes the cautiously closed off Mitsuyoshi to bloom like the cherry blossoms.
7. Shirokuma Café (Polar Bear Café)
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: April 2012 – March 2013
When you go to your local zoo, you may go to watch the monkeys, the tigers, flamingos, or lemurs, but what if one day you stop for a drink at a nearby café and find your greeted by a Polar Bear named Shirokuma who is not just a server but the owner of the establishment? That is precisely what to expect at Shirokuma Café along with friendly company and great service. Join Shirokuma and his friends the panda, penguin, lama and more as they get involved in daily adventures and strike up interesting conversation along with their human friend and server Ms. Sasako.
Shirokuma Café finds its way to the list by bringing an adorable concept and particularly dry humour, seeing what happens if you throw a viewing party in the mix. It asks questions like what happens when a penguin gets drunk? What do you pack for a picnic with a panda and llama? and, do animals appreciate the trees the same way people do? For any lovers of fluffy animals and cherry blossoms, this is the anime for you.
6. Sakurako-san no ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru (Beautiful Bones – Sakurako’s Investigation)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2015 – December 2015
A young man named Shoutarou Tatewaki befriends a mysterious woman named Sakurako Kujou who, it turns out, is an Osteologist who loves collecting the bones of animals, even if the samples are recent. While initially deterred by this fact, Shoutarou accompanies Sakurako on her various duties analyzing bones and solving cases through the use of her morbid knowledge. Yet as more and more cases pop up, it is possible that something deeper and darker is a foot in their world. Join Shoutarou and Sakurako as they attempt to uncover the mystery hidden in bones.
Perhaps the anime which best captures the true meaning of the cherry blossom, Beautiful Bones - Sakurako’s Investigation brings the viewer to a somewhat comfortable distance on the topic of our own mortality. The popular meaning of the cherry blossom in Japan is how it represents the fleeting and impermanent nature of life as well as it’s beauty. Within the first few minutes of this anime’s first episode viewers are greeted by Sakurako under the cherry tree in her garden as Shoutarou sees this he remembers the opening words of the late author Motojirō Kajii’s story “Under the Cherry Tree”: “Dead bodies are buried under the cherry tree”. This introduction of the character sets a tone for the anime that is both intriguing if not sometimes a bit uncomfortable.
5. Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card-hen
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: January 2018 – June 2018
Sakura Kinomoto has succeeded in her mission to collect all the Clow Cards. The spirit of the cards now returned to their own seals. As her mission ends, new hope arises in her future as she discovers that her crush Shaoran Li will be moving to attend the same school as her as they embark on their first year of middle school together. While everything seems to be going well, she is struck by a discomforting dream featuring a dark and mysterious cloaked figure who is surrounded by the now seemingly blank and clear Clow cards she had only just completed collecting. Waking to find his nightmare a reality, she must set off on a new quest to solve the mystery and put things right.
Cardcaptor Sakura is back with everyone’s favorite adorable heroine. In episode 5 of the new series, viewers get to see Sakura prepare bento lunches for a flower viewing in the park with her friends. Once she is there, everything seems fine, but what is an episode of Cardcaptor Sakura without some strange force that needs to be captured? If you are looking for a nice episode about Hanami mixed in with the literal forces of gravity, look no further!
4. Amaama to Inazuma (Sweetness & Lightning)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2016 – September 2016
The recently widowed Kouhei Inuzuka does all he can to raise his daughter Tsumugi. Yet being a sole working parent has proven to be a bit too much. Working as a teacher and not having the necessary culinary skills to ensure a healthy meal is made for his daughter, Kouhei relies on ready-made meals or simple meals to feed his daughter. Relief would soon come in the invitation of one of Kouhei’s students, Kotori Iida, who invites them to her family’s diner where she can cook for them.
Along the same lines as our eighth entry on the list, a new chapter is found beneath the cherry blossom tree. Rather than finding a new love, it is a chance to move on from love that has been lost. Kouhei and his daughter just so happen to bump into Kotori as she eats alone under the tree at a Hanami celebration. While a sweet tone is set for this slice of life, the serious feeling of loss and struggle is not exempt from this tale and remains present in the story. For those who look forward to new beginnings. This is for you.
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: April 2012 – September 2012
Hyouka follows the story of Houtarou Oreki, an intelligent but apathetic High School Student who lives by his own mantra “I don't do anything I don't have to. What I have to do, I do quickly." Houtarou is content with his rather unsurprising life until he is made by his sister to join the Classic Literature Club so that it does not shut down. There, he and his friend Satoshi Fukube meet a spritely classmate named Eru Chitanda. Together, Houtarou and his friends seek to solve daily mysteries all while journeying deeper into the long history of the club and the space in which they reside.
In the concluding episode of this mystery and slice of life anime, we see Houtarou asked to stand in as an umbrella holder for Eru Chitanda during the doll festival. In this particular festival, the cherry blossoms are blooming out of season. The flowers are offering a beautiful sight to behold as the dolls travel underneath a large tree’s petals. It reflects much of the change that the protagonist has gone through, especially as it pertains to his perception of himself and his energy-conserving philosophy. While under the cherry blossoms, there is a moment where his mind can be spoken truthfully but he hesitates and like the wind and the fleeting nature of the cherry blossoms, that moment passes by but gives birth to new ones.
2. Fairy Tail
- Episodes: 175
- Aired: October 2009 – March 2013
In the fantastic land of Fiora, most magical operations are carried out by various guilds consisting of mages of varying powers. One of the greatest guilds is Fairy Tail, a warm and inviting guild. Lucy Heartfillia, a celestial key wielder, hopes to one day become a member of Fairy Tail and collect celestial keys. Along her own journey, she is saved by Natsu Dragneel, the adopted son of a dragon and member of Fairy Tail. He invites her to join the guild alongside Gray Fullbuster, Erza Scarlet, and countless others. What great adventures await them?
In episode 75, we are greeted with excitement for the Fairy Tail guild’s annual hanami viewing celebration, with prizes, liquor, and bingo! It would be Lucy’s first time celebrating with the Fairy Tale guild and her chance to see the rainbow sakura tree at night. Unfortunately, she catches a cold while on a mission and must stay in bed. While the festival carries on, she reflects on her time spent with Fairy Tail, all that she has gained and learned on her journey. As much as Hanami is a time for transition, it can also be a time for reflection and looking forward to what’s next.
- Episodes: 23
- Aired: October 2007 – March 2008
Tomoya Okazaki and his friend Youhei Sunohara are coasting through high school life. Tomoya has no idea what the future holds for him and has no faith that he will accomplish anything of importance. As a result of his nihilistic viewpoint, Tomoya doesn’t apply himself to his studies or making the most out of his time in school. One day, on his way to class, he is caught off guard by a quirky girl named Nagisa Furukawa who was held back in school due to a sickness. Nagisa is determined to make Tomoya her friend and recruit his help in reopening the school’s closed drama club. Once on board, Tomoya meets Nagisa’s friends and soon finds himself helping them out in various ways. Will his new friendships give Tomoya hope for the future?
“Everything changes, at least it does eventually”. These are some of the first words which Nagisa speaks aloud to herself as Tomoya passes by on the hill with cherry blossoms. Her words and demeanor draw in Tomoya and sets him on a new course and way of perceiving both the world and the value he can bring to it. Used throughout, the cherry blossom stands as a representative of a new start for Tomoya, whose world was clouded by a grey and gloomy perspective. As perhaps one of the most popular and cherished slice of life, drama, and romance anime out there, this is for those who are looking for a little hope.
In our list, we sought to highlight the spirit and importance of Hanami. We hope we have accomplished our goal. We still want to hear from you. Was there an anime that did a better job of celebrating Hanami that we didn’t recognize? What was your favorite on the list? Let us know in the comments.