The history of Hanami- a traditional Japanese celebration of flowers blossoming, is said to be centuries old and is focused on the Sakura, or cherry tree blossoms. What was once a tradition reserved only for the royal elite is now celebrated across the globe by many. One of the most well known hanami celebrations in the US was started in 1912 when we were gifted 3,000 sakura trees by Japan as a sign of friendship. An additional 3,800 trees were gifted to the US again in 1965. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, started in 1934, still takes places every year in Washington, DC where all of those trees have been planted. During the three week festival, over 700,000 visitors convene to take in the beauty of the sakura blossom season.
Having been lucky enough to enjoy the National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC several times, I was so excited to be in Tokyo during the sakura blossom season. Many places around the city have beautiful decorations and specialty menus to commemorate these beautiful blooms- everywhere from Starbucks to Shake Shack to the Peninsula Hotel where I stayed. When I found out that they were offering Sakura Afternoon Tea in their gorgeous lobby, filled to the brim with tall cherry trees in full bloom and extravagant flower arrangements, I could.not.resist.
Believe it or not, this wasn’t even everything that they served! There was so much food. I tried to take a bite of everything, but it was really too much… plus, Champagne does fill you up.