Hanami Bento “Japanese Flower Viewing Festival Bento”

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Hanami Bento “Japanese Flower Viewing Festival Bento”

Colourful Hanami bento box, an ideal component for cherry blossom viewing parties.

Many centuries-old, Hanami 花見 is said to have started during the Nara period (710–794), a Japanese custom of enjoying cherry blossom trees’ beauty. From late March to early May cherry trees bloom all over Japan for only a few weeks each year. The bento box has traditionally been an indispensable part of celebrating the occasion.

No Hanami party is said to be complete without the bento box, the contents of which 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.

Hanami Bento Box
Hanami Bento Box

Greeting the arrival of spring in Japan through the ‘hanami’ is a custom that is being followed in the country since ancient times. Admiring the cherry blossoms is regarded as a festive occasion. 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.

In today’s times, the hanami ritual involves family and friends coming together under the shade of the cherry blossoms for a traditional picnic. One of the important items in the picnic basket comprises the bento box. The bento box is a lunch box divided into several compartments and accommodating the meals for a single person or many depending upon its size. Whatever, be the size; the food colours prevailing in the bento box for a cherry blossom party need to be pink, orange and red; the colours represent the blossoms and heralding the onset of spring. These boxes are often called as the hanami Bentos.

The recipes of the food items are centred on these colours, and you have an assortment of food items going into the bento box for this occasion. In addition to the rice, you have 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 include foods and vegetables typical to the spring season like grilled salmon, wild ferns and green spring herb dumplings.

However, hanami bento need not necessarily be made in Japan. You can make it home even if you live elsewhere. Just ensure 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!

Read more about Hanami Japanese Flower Viewing Festival or our bento boxes which are widely used for the same purpose.

Hanami in Osaka
1834, In Osaka people enjoying Hanami Bento while viewing cherry blossom trees accompanied by music and sake. The bento depected in the image is a multi-tiered bento box.
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