Is 花見 really only for 桜?

I thought for sure I’ve heard it used for other flowering trees, like plum blossoms, but “Flower Viewing” was incorrect on the 花見 card because it said sakura only.


According to Wikipedia:

Hanami (花見, lit. “flower viewing”) is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers, “flower” in this case almost always meaning cherry blossoms (“sakura”) or (less often) plum blossoms(“ume”).


If you look at a Japanese dictionary it does just say 花, but then it says 特に桜, especially sakura. So… the meaning on here helps to establish what people will expect when you say it. People will assume sakura unless you go on to explain it’s something else.


Looks like I was right about hearing it for plum blossoms, but only because I was in the south in April so they were in bloom and sakura were not. Thanks guys!


To actually quote a Japanese dictionary I have:


As you can see, as Leebo said, it pretty much calls out sakura in particular as the flower being referenced by the phrase.

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So if you go to view the sakura but don’t have fun, is it not a 花見? :stuck_out_tongue:


No! You will enjoy yourself!! The dictionary demands it! :joy::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


It is definitely flower viewing. I have changed the synonym in mine to reflect this. It is not just restricted to Sakura. The Sakura is a flower and the most popular but Japan does have flower viewing year round and there are often flower displays in gardens and around castles that are not sakura.

In strict literal translation it is flower viewing.


And yet a strict literal translation misses the nuance that the term in general is referring to sakura. I’ve verified this using 3 different native dictionaries.


The Sakura is a flower, how much more clear can that be! Not only that there are many types of Sakura!

I got this one wrong yesterday too, boo <3 but I’ve really only heard it used for sakura here. Otherwise, my friends just say “Let’s go for a picnic by the river to look at flowers.” :slight_smile:

Who said it wasn’t a flower? Secondly, how does your statement dispute anything I said. Like Leebo, I’m using native dictionaries for meaning not an overly-strict, literal translation. I’m pretty sure the Kojien dictionary, just one such dictionary I consulted, is more definitive than you.

The first entry in Kojien is:


I suggest you pay close attention to the parenthetical statement in the definition.


No it is flower viewing and when learning Japanese from fresh it has always been installed into learners as flower viewing. The literal translation is better as you will encounter many things in Japanese language where the literal translation is direct but the intent is mainly for something specific but not always the case.

No, a translation informed by the actual nuance of the language is better than a literal translation devoid of that nuance. It’s pretty hilarious that you think you know the language better than native speakers who write native dictionaries.

Why is it that you can’t just admit to being wrong? This is like when you argued over the pronunciation of 右 where you were also in the wrong.


What “literal translation” are you talking about? I only see dictionary definitions, which say “flowers, but usually sakura”.


Which Sakura???
Kanzakura, Kanhizakura, Ichiyo, Ukon, Kanzan, Shogetu, Kikuzakura, Jugatuzakura.

Let me know and then get back to me.

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In general, not even a native Japanese person is going to care what kind of sakura. As explained earlier in this thread, a native Japanese person will hear the word 花見 and will usually think of 桜, unless otherwise specified by the speaker. Japanese is a very contextual and nuanced language, and so sticking to literal translations is not going to be good for your learning in the long run.


And the whole thing was started because a nice old lady asked me about viewing the plum blossoms, but importantly she specified plum blossoms. <3


Irrelevant and still doesn’t change the fact that “sakura viewing” is a more accurate translation in the vast majority of cases unless the speaker specifically mentions a different type of flower.


Look, I am already certified by JLPT so could not care less what others say. I have a Japanese girlfriend and know exactly what I am talking about when I reply because I can talk directly to a native Japanese person. The word is flower viewing. If it was for anything else then it would be a different word. Sakura is a flower. They can be viewed year round.

Best to use the word flower as well, it makes no difference in the long run with English translations.