lifestyle

Air-hanami: Could flower-viewing without flowers be next trend?

7 Comments
By Kay, RocketNews24

We’re now at the peak of hanami, flower-viewing season here in Tokyo. But this year apparently some people are trying to spread the idea of “air-hanami“, which essentially is flower viewing without actually going outside and seeing real flowers.

Yup, hanami without flowers, now that’s a novel, if not a somewhat bizarre-sounding concept, because… well, if there aren’t any flowers, then is it even really “flower viewing?”

The idea is that you can enjoy pictures or videos of beautifully blooming sakura trees (or even artificial sakura branches) in the comfort of your home or a restaurant to have a sort of virtual or “air-hanami” experience.

Now, seeing the gorgeous cherry flowers is always a pleasure each year, but considering that hanami is also a huge excuse for people across Japan to party, buy lots of alcohol, and get drunk, it’s not surprising that beer companies like Kirin would be enthusiastic about promoting air-hanami. In fact, Kirin has actually put up a special website dedicated to air-hanami, describing the concept and suggesting drinks and various items for people who want to enjoy air-hanami.

The site also provides some majestic photos of scenes including sakura trees in bloom for your air-hanami viewing pleasure.

Kirin even has a dedicated air-hanami page on Amazon Japan where you can get your hanami drinks and goods at the click of a button.

So what’s the deal with flower-viewing without the flowers? Well, there are actually some very real advantages to an indoor virtual hanami. Even though the sakura flowers may be in bloom, it’s still quite chilly outdoors this time of year, especially during the night, so unless you’re lucky enough to have exceptionally warm weather, spending several hours outside for a hanami session after work could get cold and uncomfortable.

Plus, it’s also hay fever ("kafunsho") season from Japanese "sugi" pine pollen, which many Japanese people suffer from, so it’s not an ideal time for many folks to be spending time outside. And of course there’s also the practical matter of having easy and quick access to cold beer, warm food, and clean toilets.

And it’s not only the beer companies, but the Japanese media seems to be trying to promote this new concept of air-hanami. One of the major national TV stations in Japan recently aired a segment on air-hanami as a growing phenomenon. There are also plenty of photos and videos of blooming sakura flowers being shared on Twitter and other social media as material that can be used for air-hanami.

In reality however, a huge majority of the people on the Japanese internet seem to think that air-hanami is a ridiculous idea, especially based on the comments that appeared after the TV segment on air-hanami was aired, many of which expressed thoughts like: “What a stupid idea. Not elegant at al!” or “Aaaargh… we can’t turn this into a fad! We’ll have idiots breaking off branches from sakura trees to do this.”

Okay, so air-hanami may not really take hold in Japan as a yearly spring-time activity, but as we’ve mentioned already, it does have its advantages. What do you think — does virtual flower-viewing seem like a viable idea at all for people who can’t actually go and see the sakura flowers in person? Or should those staying indoors stick to just eating delicious hanami cakes instead?

Sources: Digital PR Platform press release, Kirin Air-Hanami Festival website

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Tully’s Japan reveals new lineup of sakura cherry blossom beverages, sweets and drinkware -- The not-so-fleeting beauty of the cherry blossoms: An alternate perspective -- 14 tips for visiting the Mt Fuji Shibazakura Festival, where beautiful “lawn sakura” blossom

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7 Comments
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Hmmm air-hanami sounds more like doing hanami outside but without any sakura blossoming and lets be honest aren't most people going to hanami for just the drinks anyway.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Did not waste 1 minute reading this.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I'm not wasting my time reading it either. I know that if they get a tarento to go up in the chopper or plane or what have you with a bento, take a bite while flying over the blossoms, tilt his/her head up, close eyes, shake head slightly, and say, "Umai!" and "saikou!" people will flock to do it regardless.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Daft, just daft....

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I quit reading, too, when I got to the part about 'kafunsho' from the 'sugi' pines. What's so hilarious to me is that the 'sugi' is a pine tree planted by the Japanese, and too many to count Japanese people have an allergy to it. What goes around comes around, I guess. Not that I'm all that unsympathetic to the sufferers, but not having any allergies I can't help but wonder why the Japanese just don't cut down all those trees and replace them with something else. It would make for a decent workforce of young people who don't want to wear suits to office factories. Healthier, too.

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Not being Japanese I don't get the thrill of standing butt to crotch while badly singing karaoke drunk beyond belief in a park because of … flowers. So going to a nice quiet restaurant and watching flowers on a big screen TV while quietly conversing with friends and eating a delicious meal makes more sense. Or driving 20 minutes out of town to see nice flowers without the crowds. Hmmm. Real or virtual? Mass of people or nature?

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I go to a 100 yen shop, buy a fake branch of sakura and go drinking at an izakaya with my students and call it a "Hanami Party" every year...

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