All TopicsNewsCultureJapanese Snacks & CandyFood & DrinkTravelEntertainmentMember Spotlight
TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogThe Best Bento Box: Hanami Edition!

The Best Bento Box: Hanami Edition!

Linh LeLinh Le
Published Time
Posted on 
February 25, 2023
A shot of a hanami bento box, complete with rice featuring cherry blossoms on top.

Japanese people often prepare a bento box for their relatives to bring to work or school because it is compact, fast, and easy to carry. In the same way, lunch boxes for hanami (flower-viewing) festival are called hanami bento. Let’s find out what makes hanami bento so unique!

What is hanami bento box?

Hanami bento, just like other kinds of bento boxes, represents the culinary art of the Japanese. Although these bento boxes may look simple, they combine a balanced arrangement of ingredients and presentation.

According to traditional concepts, having five cooking methods in a bento box is ideal. These methods are raw, simmering, frying, and grilling. Bento makers must achieve five flavors for the perfect balance of taste: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami. Finally, people enjoy their bento box with the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. 

A simple hanami bento box.
Bento boxes are an essential part of Japanese culture.

A standard lunch box must traditionally contain nutritional elements such as starch, fiber, and protein. In particular, the arrangement should follow the 4:3:2:1 ratio (four parts of rice, three parts of meat, two parts of vegetables, and 1 part of dessert). 

Because people share hanami bento between family and friends, you can fill it up with many things depending on each person’s preferences. However, it still follows some of the traditional elements of a typical bento.

Moreover, as its name says, it is a must to have cherry blossoms as one of the ingredients in a hanami lunch box. Every dish has beautiful decorations to reflect the spring season.

Typical dishes for a Hanami Bento Box

Fried and grilled dishes

A plate of karaage fried chicken with lemon on the side.
Karaage is crispy and juicy! Image via Shutterstock

Fried and grilled dishes are an essential part of the hanami bento. These fried dishes range from typical Japanese fried dishes such as karaage (Japanese fried chicken), takoyaki (grilled octopus balls), and tempura. Since these fried dishes can take time to prepare, most people will get them from the supermarkets. 

Pickles and salads

Japanese people often prepare vegetable dishes such as salads and tsukemono (Japanese pickles) to accompany the salty dishes. Some popular Japanese salads are kinpira gobo (burdock root and carrot), shori-ae (mashed tofu and blanched vegetables), potato salad, seaweed, and lotus root salad. 

A plate of tsukemono including radishes, cucumbers and ginger.
Tsukemono is an integral part of bentos. Image via Shutterstock

Salted cherry blossom pickles would make an exceptional addition among those commonly seen salads. Foragers pick the yaezakura cherry blossoms after blooming.

Afterward, they wash, dry, and sprinkle them with salt before soaking them in plum vinegar. After letting them sit for a few days and dry out, the cherry blossom pickle is ready. 


Onigiri is a simple, convenient meal ideal for a day spent outdoors. It uses steamed rice, forming it into a triangular or circular shape and wrapping it in seaweed. Varieties of onigiri are customizable, often featuring tuna, salmon, dried bonito flakes, or salted plum as fillings.

A plate of onigiri rice balls. The frontmost ball has a seaweed smile. Any classic Japanese bento box will have some kind of rice ball!
Onigiri is one of the most popular and straightforward Japanese snacks out there! Image via Shutterstock

In the hanami season, sakura onigiri is a special edition of rice ball with cherry blossom pickle as the star ingredient. You can knead the cherry blossom pickle with rice to form a sakura rice ball. These lovely sakura onigiri are the soul of every hanami bento.

Are you looking for some sakura-flavored snacks and sweets to enjoy the change of season? TokyoTreat has everything you need! TokyoTreat sends the best seasonal Japanese snacks, sweets, and drinks from Japan right to your door, perfect for a fun outdoor picnic with your loved ones!

Sakura Inarizushi 

Inarizushi is a variation of sushi, and sakura inarizushi is another dish you can make using cherry blossom pickle. Like other sushi, you must prepare sushi rice – a mixture of rice, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Short-grain Japanese rice is the most suitable type because it absorbs liquid quickly and is easy to mold into shapes. 

A bowl of a variety of inarizushi; which is rice and toppings in fried tofu. Inarizushi is crucial to the bento box.
Inarizushi uses fried tofu as a main ingredient. Image via Shutterstock

Afterward, people place the sushi rice inside the aburaage (deep-fried tofu) simmered in mirin, soy sauce, and Japanese dashi soup stock. Lastly, adding sakura pickle on top or mixing it with the sushi rice will be a nice touch to turn this into a cherry blossom-themed dish perfect for the hanami bento. 


A plate of salmon makizushi with orange tobiko eggs on the surface.
Makizushi comes in all kinds of flavors! Image via Shutterstock

Maki in Japanese means roll, so makizushi is a sushi roll. It is made by adding a layer of sushi rice on top of nori and filling it in with seafood such as salmon, maguro, tuna, eels, or vegetables, then rolling everything up together. The sushi roll will be cut into bite-sized pieces and dipped in soy sauce to taste.

Miso soup

The cherry blossom festival usually takes place in March and April when it is still cold in Japan. Therefore, Japanese people typically bring hot miso soup to enjoy at hanami parties to keep their bodies warm.

A bowl of miso soup with tofu, seaweed and kinoko mushrooms in it.
Miso soup is one of the best foods to have in your bento!

Hot miso soup is usually kept warm in a thermos container and poured into small bowls or cups for everyone in the family to enjoy. For an authentic Japanese culinary experience, miso soup is a must. 


Sweets in flower-viewing picnics are usually wagashi – Japanese confectionery. The most popular dessert at hanami parties is sakura mochi – a rice cake with red bean paste wrapped in salted cherry blossom petals.

Two bowls of sakura mochi which is pink with perilla leaf wrapped around it. This goes well with a bento box.
Sakura mochi is cute and delicious! Image via Shutterstock

Depending on the region, sakura mochi has different variations. In Kanto, people use a thin crust as crepe rolled with red bean paste, while in Kansai, it is a thick rice cake wrapped with red bean paste.

Hanami dango is another type of wagashi people eat during a hanami picnic. Hanami dango are sweet dumplings skewered on a bamboo stick. These cute little dumplings are usually in green, white, and pink – the three themed spring colors typically spotted in other types of Japanese food this season.

Drinks for the Bento Box

Hanami would only be complete with a drink to sip while slowly spending time admiring the beauty of nature. It is ideal to have sake and tea, the best two accompaniments to sweets and snacks. 

Two glasses of hanamizake, which is cherry blossom sake.
Hanamizake is a delicious part of any bento box! Image via Shutterstock

Japanese people have their name for the sake drunk under the cherry blossoms – hanamizake. Sometimes you can add the cherry blossom petals to the cup of sake or tea to make it more aromatic and flavorful. 

In addition, Japanese people also like to drink beer and juices. It is easy to find seasonal drinks: sakura flavors or spring fruits such as peach, strawberry, plum juice, and more at convenience stores or supermarkets. 

Are you planning to visit Japan this spring? If yes, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a hanami bento box under the cherry blossom trees in the upcoming season! What kind of food and snacks would you bring to a hanami picnic? Share with us in the comments below!

Enjoy Delicious Japanese Candy And Snacks Every Month!

Enjoy Delicious Japanese Candy And Snacks Every Month!

Starting from $32.50 USD

Get TokyoTreat

Author avatar
Linh Le

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

A blue box of chocolates on White Day.

March 14th: Everything You Need to Know About White Day!

From the unique gift-giving customs to the returning expressions of love, let’s look into what sets White Day apart from Valentine’s Day.

January 25, 2024
Party snacks for the New Year.

Party Snacks for the New Year: Best Things to Try! 

It’s the New Year and time for some party snacks! From mochi to donuts, there’s so much to enjoy! Let’s check them out and see what’s in store for you!

January 20, 2024
New Years Japan at Osaka Castle.

New Years Japan: Everything You Need to Know!

During New Years in Japan, people celebrate in many different ways! Let’s see how Japan celebrates the new year!

January 05, 2024
The rainbow Bridge in Odaiba during Christmas in Japan.

The Ultimate Holiday Season Guide for Japan!

Christmas in Japan is one of the most incredible holidays you’ll ever experience, and New Year’s is not too far off! Here’s the ultimate guide about enjoying the season!

December 23, 2023
A Shimekazari New Year's wreath. Some people may use it as a decoration on a lucky bag.

Celebrate New Year’s the Japanese Way!

It’s time to step into a Japanese New Year, or “Oshogatsu”! From the lucky bag to amazing parties, there’s much to enjoy!

December 21, 2023
A fireworks show near Odaiba, a way to ring the bell in the new year!

Ring the Bell: Fun Things to Do for the New Year!

As the year ends, it’s time to ring the bell for a fresh start and welcome the New Year! Let’s explore the exciting ways Japan embraces this holiday!

December 19, 2023
PricingBeginner’s Guide to TokyoTreatUpcoming BoxPast boxes
Support & Information
FAQContactHelp CenterBlog

Be a TokyoTreat Insider!

Join our newsletter and receive tasty news and deals!

AnIchigo Logobrand.
Copyright © 2024 TokyoTreat™. All Rights Reserved.
Accepted Payments
Visa payment availableMastercard payment availableAmerican Express payment availableDiscover payment availablePayPal payment available