Tools you can trust for the perfect hanami

April 2nd, 2010 by Sandra Barron

No surprise why Naka-Meguro is a popular hanami spot in Tokyo.

No surprise why Naka-Meguro is a popular hanami spot in Tokyo.

In Japan, when the little pale pink cherry blossom petals start appearing in late March to early April, it’s a cause for celebration, organized celebration. So what could be so hard about having a party under the snowy branches with friends or coworkers? Plenty. A pre-season hanami “fail” survey this year by goo Research found 10 ways a hanami can go wrong.  It can be hard to get the timing right. You can get rained on, end up at a place with no toilets, or pick a place with few trees. Even a best-case scenario can have you and your friends starting out sprawled in the sun and ending up a freezing mass, huddled and hungry on your cold, blue tarp in the unpredictable spring weather.

iSakura app gives weather and bloom information

iSakura app gives weather and bloom information

The survey,  translated by What Japan Thinks, found that the number one problem hanami party organizers have had was finding and keeping a good spot. With more Japanese people carrying smart phones, sophisticated applications are coming to the rescue, including new iPhone apps from AAA, Weathernews and iSakura.

The iSakura app, from BayardNetwork Co., appears to be one of the most popular. It has info on 1,000 cherry blossom-viewing sites across Japan and has been hovering in the top 10 free downloads in the Japanese iTunes store. It can search for flower-viewing venues by name, area, train line or highway exit or by using GPS to find the nearest spot. The database is also searchable via specific conditions, such as night viewing, free entry, availability of parking and public toilets, and whether beer, sake or snacks are sold on site. For each location, in addition to those details and the venue phone number, it tells how open the blossoms are on a 10-degree scale from budding to full and offers the capability to jot down digital notes.

The second most common problem blossom party organizers reported was running out of food and drinks. The Domino’s delivery iPhone app, also featured in the Apple store as a hot item, uses GPS to deliver right to wherever you are, even when you’ve lost track of where in the sea of tarps that is. It also has 20% off coupons within the app until April 25.

Number seven on the list is reserving too little space for everyone who showed up. Take their minds off the crowding and amuse them like the Heian courtesans who started this whole cherry blossom-viewing thing 1,300 years ago: iKoto, a ¥230 app from GClue turns your iPhone into a traditional Japanese harp.

Not bundling up enough was another common complaint. When it’s time to warm up and move inside to the second party, the bar and restaurant search site Gurunabi (that’s “guru” as in “gourmet”), accessible from any web-capable phone, is offering specials to flower watchers only. And they demand proof: to get the discounted food and drink, post-hanami partiers must bring in the digital cellphone coupons along with real cherry blossom petals. (We don’t have to mention that you should scoop up some fallen petals and shouldn’t pull them off the trees, do we?)

Rounding out the list of last year’s problems was not bringing enough trash bags. Could this have anything to do with the popularity in the Japan App Store of bilingual task management tools like SaiSuke and Refills? Now, if only there were an app to get rid of those mountains of post-party trash.

What apps do you think would make hanami more fun?

Tags: , ,

One Response

  1. Great article!

    I think another good app for hanami is Glympse – it’s a free GPS app that allows you send your exact location to any email address. If the recipient also has an iPhone they can either view your location on a static Google Map image (and reload to get an update on your location if you’re moving), or, if they have Glympse installed too they can see your live position in relation to theirs. It’s great when you’re trying to meet someone – we used it with a team of ten when live-streaming the Tokyo Marathon, couldn’t have done without it. No more phone calls trying to explain exactly where you are (“Well, we’re under a cherry tree, sitting on a blue plastic sheet…”).

    iTunes store link: http://jpta.me/deQIG4

RSS

Recent Posts

  • Marketers capitalize on university entrance exam time

    This week there is something weighing heavy on the minds of many students who’d like to advance to college: the National Center Test for University Admissions. It’s being held Jan. 18-19. Those with their heart set on a particular school who don’t get a good enough score may choose to spend a year, or in [...]

  • Pulsations 1.13.14

    The first batch of Pulsations in 2014 features a twist on chopstick design, a spectacular holiday illumination in Osaka and more.

  • Feelin’ lucky? The highs and lows of ‘fukubukuro’

    Whether you count fukubukuro “lucky bags” as a thank-you to shoppers, a scheme to unload less popular merchandise at the end of the year or just a way to kick off the New Year’s sales, buying a mystery pile of stuff worth [hopefully far] more than the price tag is a tempting offer to many. [...]

  • Pulsations (12.6.13)

    This collection of Pulsations brings holiday cheer in bento form, a must-see project for font-lovers, a solo stop-motion animation effort and more!

  • Joysound’s top 10 karaoke songs of 2013

    Joysound karaoke announced their top songs of 2013! However, just because they’re popular does not mean they came out this year . . .

  • Tokyo Eggs Benedict Bingo

    Eggs Benedict with awesome bacon, with a near lack of eggs, with raw tuna! Wait, raw tuna?! We sample a handful of Tokyo’s Hollandaise sauces.

  • Pulsations (11.19.13)

    Fashion, art and snacktime collide in this collection of Pulsations! Plus: Doraemon makes his 3D film debut!

  • J-blip: Tsutaya launches one-stop ‘lifestyle’ bookshop

    Bookseller Tsutaya moves into the lifestyle business and gives consumer more ways to use T-points.

  • Autumn crop of pumpkin, purple potato and pear products

    The change of season prompts a change of snack flavorings – great for those with a pumpkin craving.

  • Tokyo Designers Week 2013

    This year’s Tokyo Designers Week gets its creative juices flowing with more markets, music and a festival vibe.

Our Users Say

  • More Than Red: Great photos. Thank you for sharing.
  • kenji: A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!!
  • John Moore: I believed that blue, green, purple and black were inherently boy colors, while red, orange, yellow and...
  • deepak kumar: It is commom nature of guman being to play safe.
  • Janel: Not sure I could do the avocado before I read this. But it doesn’t really look too good on that burger!
Japan Times RSS Feed

RECENT JAPAN TIMES HEADLINES

  • No items
Read more:
Japan by the numbers (02.08.10)

What's going on in Japan, by the numbers.

Close