Japanese pay close attention to these forecasts and turn out in large numbers at parks, shrines and temples with family and friends to hold flower-viewing parties.
There is at least one popular folk song, originally meant for the shakuhachi (bamboo flute), titled "Sakura", and several pop songs.
Most Japanese schools and public buildings have cherry blossom trees outside of them.
Since the fiscal and school year both begin in April, in many parts of Honshu, the first day of work or school coincides with the cherry blossom season.
The custom is said to have started during the Nara period (710–794), when it was ume blossoms that people admired in the beginning, but by the Heian period (794–1185) cherry blossoms came to attract more attention, and hanami was synonymous with sakura. The custom was originally limited to the elite of the Imperial Court, but soon spread to samurai society and, by the Edo period, to the common people as well.
Tokugawa Yoshimune planted areas of cherry blossom trees to encourage this.