Spring is a beautiful time of year. Spring might soon be done for the year, but we are always striving to learn Japanese! And there’s always next spring. Let’s hope by then, COVID-19 is gone and we’re allowed to travel again. Why not prepare ourselves for our next Japanese spring holiday?
Other than booking flights and accommodation, equip yourself with some Japanese words for Spring! You’re a scroll away from a list of essential spring words in the Japanese language!
The first word on the list is haru (春). What’s more essential than the Japanese word for “spring”? I love the spring season (haru no kisetsu, 春の季節). Blooming flowers take over the whole landscape. The specific term for that is haru no hana (春の花), which means “spring flowers”.
When it’s the beginning of spring (harusaki, 春先), we get to say goodbye to puffy jackets. They’re replaced with shades of pink and yellow, just like the colours of spring (or shunshoku, 春色).
The best part for the kids is the haruyasumi (春休み), spring holiday! But that’s not the first thing that lets us know the change of season. It’s the haruichiban (春一番), the first storm of spring. Be careful of the spring winds (harukaze, 春風), they’re quite strong!
When we think of spring, we think of sakura (桜). Cherry blossoms are the unofficial flower of Japan because the connection between the two is so strong.
There are so many types of sakura trees in Japan. One iconic one is the shidarezakura (枝垂れ桜), the weeping cherry blossom trees. Locals and foreigners alike explore the country looking for them. It’s as popular as viewing cherry blossoms at night, or yozakura (夜桜).
The sakurazensen (桜前線, cherry blossom front) moves northward as the warmer weather hits Japan at different times. Because of that, the flowers don’t bloom at the same time.
At the end of sakura season, you’ll see hazakura (葉桜). These are sakura leaves that signify the end of the blooming season. But before that, you’ll get a grand farewell with a blizzard of falling cherry blossoms known as sakurafubuki (桜吹雪).
We know the name of the cherry blossom flower, but what is “flower” in Japanese? That’s hana (花). The most popular term using this word is hanami (花見) to refer to cherry blossom viewing. This is an activity where groups of people lay out a mat under the cherry trees. Usually, there’s alcohol involved. Drinking starts as early as noon. Heck, you might even see locals with a can of beer in the morning.
During a hanafubuki (花吹雪), hanabira (花びら, flower petals) fall from the trees. Every street would be filled with flower petals. It’s as beautiful as when they’re still on the trees.
One word that’s interesting using the word “hana” is hanagasumi (花霞). This refers to the appearance of flowers from afar like it’s white mist.
If you’re a huge cherry blossom enthusiast like me, you’d want to keep an eye out for the mankai (満開). This refers to the full bloom of the cherry blossoms. You can use this term for other flowers but it’s commonly used for sakura.
During a mankai, all the trees are full of flowers. There’s nothing quite like a full bloom scenery.
So how do you know when the cherry blossoms are going to bloom? Check the kaikayosou (開花予想), of course. This is the blooming forecast that’s broadcasted on the news and online. Plan your exact dates for your spring trip based on the forecast. You’ll get the best chances at viewing cherry blossoms at its peak.
We mentioned spring holiday earlier for the kids. There’s one public holiday that the adults can look forward to: shunbun (春分), Vernal Equinox Day. It usually falls on March 20th or 21st. This holiday marks the beginning of spring astrologically.
This day is special because it’s when daytime and nighttime are exactly the same length. There’s a special way to celebrate this day, but that’s an article all on its own.
Not all of spring is a holiday. You also have the start of the new school term in spring, which is shingakki (新学期). When school starts up again in spring, you’ll be greeted with a wonderful landscape of cherry blossoms. What a way to start the semester.
Spring is beautiful, but it’s not perfect. Some don’t like this season because of kafun (花粉, pollen). With the blooming flowers come the powdery substance. Not everyone’s immune to that.
In fact, some prefer the other seasons because spring gives them hay fever. That’s called kafunsho (花粉症) in Japanese. Having allergies is not the best way to celebrate a season, is it?
If you haven’t noticed yet, a lot of the spring words are related to flowers. Isn’t that what we love about spring, anyway? Whether the good or the bad, the warming up of the weather is a good sign for everyone. After all, summer comes after! Keep an eye out for essential Japanese summer words!