When to visit Japan to see the cherry blossoms? 桜の見頃はいつ？
Where and when to see cherry blossoms in Japan?
The ever-popular blossoming of cherry flowers, Sakura, is a national event in Japan. However, the transience of flowers and unpredictability of the nature make forecasting difficult. Fortunately, serious studies and statistics are carried out each year by the Japan Meteorological Agency to provide accuracy of the best time for cherry blossom.
Discover all the tips from Japan Experience to not miss the Japanese cherry blossoms.
The cherry blossom season in Japan continues to attract more and more visitors from around the world, for whom springtime in Japan means sakura. However, as they blossom only for about one to two weeks, your trip must be planned accordingly - which isn't easy, because this long-awaited event is subject to weather conditions. The cold, heat, rain or wind can slow down, speed up, or shorten the blossoming time.
When is the best season for Japanese cherry trees?
It is also necessary to distinguish when cherry blossoms open , kaika , from when they reach full bloom , mankai . If there is no bad weather, there are about seven days between these two times and the flowers only stay in bloom for about five or six days. There is therefore a maximum of two weeks between the hatching of the buds and the fall of the flowers.
Follow the flowering of sakura from south to north
The good news : with Japan extensive area of over 3,000km from the north to the south, it's possible to admire the cherry blossoms from early March to early May. Indeed, the sakura zensen, "the progress of the cherry blossom front", moves from south to north, the islands of Okinawa to that of Hokkaido. Not only that, but as there are over 100 varieties of cherry trees throughout Japan, if you're not after the most sought variety (somei yoshino), you will more than likely see the blossoming of at least one of the other species if you're traveling between early March and early or mid-May, depending on the region.
- Read also : 16 surprising facts about cherry trees in Japan
Choose your variety of cherry
Different varieties can be distinguished by the shape and number of flower petals (from five to over one hundred petals!) and their color, which can vary from white to yellow, or dark pink, through many shades of pale pink. Some species even change color during their flowering (fugenzo).
The somei yoshino variety, with its with five petals and very pale pink - almost white - color, is the most famous and widespread.
- Read also : Varieties of cherry trees in Japan
Japanese Cherry Blossom Forecast Calendar
From south to north, according to statistics from the last decade, here are the most likely dates of the blossoming of the most popular species, somei yoshino, in major cities in Japan (which often have the same name as the prefecture). These dates correspond to when the bud begins to bloom and when they're in full bloom.
- Kagoshima (Kyushu): end of March/beginning of April.
- Nagasaki (Kyushu): late March/early April.
- Fukuoka (Kyushu): end of March.
- Takamatsu (Shikoku): late March/early April.
- Matsuyama (Shikoku): late March/early April.
- Hiroshima (Hiroshima Prefecture): end of March/beginning of April.
- Kyoto (Kyoto Prefecture): end of March/beginning of April.
- Osaka (Osaka Prefecture): late March/early April.
- Nara (Nara prefecture): beginning of April.
- Shizuoka (Shizuoka Prefecture): end of March.
- Nagoya (Aichi prefecture): end of March/beginning of April..
- Takayama (Gifu Prefecture): mid-April.
- Kanazawa (Ishikawa Prefecture): mid-April.
- Tokyo : late March/early April.
- Sendai (Miyagi Prefecture): mid-April.
- Niigata (Niigata Prefecture): mid-April.
- Aomori (Aomori Prefecture): late April/early May.
- Sapporo (Hokkaido): early May.
For those who can't visit Japan in spring, fear not: the kugatsuzakura variety (literally "October cherry blossoms") blooms from October to January in the Tokyo area. And in the islands of Okinawa, the kanhizakura variety, very dark pink with bell-shaped petals, blooms in February.
It is good to note that spring is an extremely popular time to travel to Japan, we advise you to plan your trip up to 8-10 months in advance!