Cherry Blossom Viewing (1894)
This triptych, “Cherry-blossom Viewing (On-hanami)”, by Yoshu Chikanobu was created in 1894 (Meiji 27). The triptych is part of a series by Chikanobu that depicts the daily life of the Tokugawa elite prior to the Meiji Restoration. It depicts a group of noblewomen enjoying the fleeting beauty of the cherry blossoms (sakura) in spring, with Mt. Fuji in the background. The women are members of the Tokugawa court, as is evidenced by their beautifully intricate kimonos, as well as the Tokugawa clan seal repeated throughout the work.
Hanami - “flower viewing” - first became a tradition in Japan in the Nara period (710-794 CE), when the preferred flowers were actually plum blossoms (ume) instead of cherry blossoms. By the Heian period (794-1185 CE) sakura had taken precedence and hanami is now synonymous with the pink and white flowers of the cherry tree. Cherry blossom parties are still a celebrated tradition throughout Japan - and many other parts of the world - and people avidly track the blossom forecast announced each year by the Japan Meteorological Agency. When the blossoms are at their peak, thousands of people gather beneath them to share food, sake, and music with family and friends.