Cherry blossoms: Sakura Time & Timing in Japan
The Sakura and Hanami Season
Sakura 桜 are all things cherry, everything cherry blossoms and cherry trees. Think of sakura as a season in Japan, the height of spring.
When will the cherry blossom start to open and how long will they last? This question is essential for hanami planning and discussed in detail in the media every year.
Hanami 花見, written with the characters for flower and to see, is just that: seeing the flowers. Taking a walk and looking at the cherry blossoms, meeting with your friends under the cherry trees and looking at the cherry blossoms while you talk and drink and eat.
The Sakura Forecast
Waiting for the flowers is a big part of sakura season's attraction. The main evening news on TV present a sakura calendar that is updated daily. The news answer all those important sakura questions:
Where have the first cherry blossoms opened already?
Okinawa has the earliest sakura starting already in January.
What is the current situation of certain famous sakura trees?
Old famous trees even have names and there are reports about them, for example if they have been damaged by snow.
When will sakura start in Tokyo and other regions?
Tokyo forecasts for the first bloom of sakura is usually sometime in the last week of March 29, but in the North in Hokkaido it will only start at the end of April.
Cherry Blossoms Everywhere in Japan
There are endless famous and not so famous beautiful places to enjoy sakura everywhere in Japan. In Asakusa I like to take a walk under the cherry trees along Sumida river with Tokyo Skytree in the background. Ueno Park during hanami weekends is an experience. It becomes completely crowded with happy people gathering there. Anywhere near a temple or shrines you will probably find a cherry tree. I found a fantastic white and pink tree next to a busy Tokyo street last year.
JAPAN: the Official Guide by the Japan National Tourism Organization of course has a full section on sakura, including updated first bloom and full bloom forecasts for different cities and regions.