Hanami Bento “Japanese Flower Viewing Festival”Katachiware Japanese Style Tableware
Colourful Hanami Bento is a tiered lunch box that is an ideal component for serving meals while contemplating the beauty of cherry blossom trees in Japan.
Hanami Bento (flower viewing bento) is centuries old, dating back to the Nara period (710 to 794), Hanami is the traditional Japanese custom of appreciating the beauty of cherry blossom trees. From only a few weeks during Spring, known as the golden week, cherry trees bloom all over Japan which are celebrated by having large outdoor parties with family and friends below the blossoming trees.
Representing the end of winter and beginning a new spring life, ‘hanami’ is the Japanese custom that has been followed for generations. Admiring cherry blossom trees as they look is regarded as a festive occasion that is held in parks, temples and shrine grounds. As spring arrives from about late March up to May’s early months, you see a gradual flowering of the huge cherry trees located in the southern region and then moving to the northern part of the country. Fragile pink flowers adorn the cherry trees, turning them into a huge riot of colour and giving a beautiful look to the country’s long avenues and wide parks. Hanami festivities involve family and friends coming together under the shade of the cherry blossoms for a traditional picnic and bento boxes play an indispensable part in serving food at the celebratory occasion.
One of the important items in the picnic basket comprises the bento box. No Hanami party is said to be complete without them and they normally consist of contents that are prepared specially to represent the bounty of the spring season. Specially prepared by chefs and homemakers throughout Japan to enjoy the spring festival, the delightful bento boxes are brimming with seasonal foods.
The Hanami bento box is divided into several compartments and includes meals for a single person or many depending upon its size. Whatever the size; the food colours in the bento box include pink, orange and red. The colours represent the blossoms and heralding the onset of spring. The recipes of the food items are centred on these colours, and you have an assortment of food items. In addition to the rice, they include recipes of salmon, shrimp, pink sea bream sushi, smouldered carrot and pumpkin or a sweet-savoury pink coloured recipe of rice dumplings enclosed in cherry leaves. You also find vegetables that are typical of the spring season like grilled salmon, wild ferns and green spring herb dumplings.
However, hanami bento need not necessarily only be bento made in Japan. You can make hanami bento at home to observe spring in your country remembering that spring ingredients and the colours of the bento’s food items represent the typical hanami colours. Stretch your creative limits and use rainbow trout, spring mix, asparagus or any other local and fresh produce.
Several hanami bento boxes are available in the market, and each one symbolizes the spring festival. Pink-coloured boxes with each tier shaped like the cherry blossoms’ five petals are examples in this context. If the hanami comprises a large number of people, then you can use the three-tiered bento box. The giant bento box with a capacity of about three litres is sufficient to pack the favourite food items of all. Moreover, the varied compartments also facilitate the proper division of food. For a small numbered party you can have an individual bento box for each member.
All said and done the availability of the big bento boxes goes a long way in ensuring your hanami’s success!
Hanami Bento (Japanese Flower Viewing Bento)
Hanami Bento is the traditional Japanese custom of preparing delicious bento boxed meals which are enjoyed while viewing the beauty of cherry blossom flowers from late March to early May. People enjoy viewing the blossom trees from south to north Japan with dance, sake and food served in bento boxes with divided compartments.
By tradition, the colours of the foods prepared are pink, red and orange which is in honour of the coming spring. Alongside a serving of rice, you will find specialties of salmon, pink bream, shrimp, pumpkin or carrot recipes and sakura mochi which are traditional pink sweets made from coloured rice containing a red bean paste is wrapped in cherry leaves. Liked this article? Read more about Hanami bento recipes.