Sakura Hanami in Toronto

sakura hanami toronto

Sakura Hanami is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of cherry blossoms as they bloom in the late spring. These blossoms only last a week or so and large crowds can be found eating and drinking under the trees both day and night. Traditional Japanese foods such as dango and fried chicken are eaten, along with sake and beer and tea. The hanami tradition has been celebrated in Japan for centuries as a contemplative, peaceful activity, but for many people is now an excuse to have an early summer picnic. hana yori dango or "dumplings rather than flowers" is a Japanese saying which reflects the attitude of  people that are more interested in the food and drinks accompanying a hanami party than actually viewing the flowers themselves.

sakura hanami toronto highpark
hana yori dango means "dumplings rather than flowers"
At High Park in Toronto there are over 100 sakura trees that were donated by the ambassador of Japan in 1959 and the hanami tradition has been growing steadily in recent years. In May some friends and I decided to join the celebration and threw our own hanami party.
sakura hanami toronto highpark sake
Besides sake and beer, I brought some maki rolls and Japanese buns filled with BBQ pork, curried beef, tuna, and other savoury fillings from the Japanese bakery Furama Cake and Dessert Garden on Spadina in Chinatown, as well as assorted kim chi, seaweed, and Japanese potato chips at P.A.T Korean market on Bloor. Joel had caught a steel head trout on the weekend and home-smoked it to make a smoked trout, cream cheese avocado roll. Way to go Joel!

sakura hanami toronto highpark sushi
Joel's Smoked Steel head Trout Avocado and Cream Cheese Maki

sushi maki sakura hanami toronto highpark kimchi
Assorted Kim Chi and Seaweed Pickles 

I also bought some cherry brandy to make a special cocktail for the occasion. It's simple and delicious
Sakura Cocktail
1 part cherry brandy
4 parts sake
top with club soda
serve in a wine glass with a cherry garnish

sake sakura toronto highpark

The park was packed that afternoon, but we found good spot under one of the cherry trees and ate, drank and people watched until the sun went down. It was a great time and I plan to do it again next year. For some more photos of the day check out my photoblog

sakura hanami toronto highpark

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