Chasing Spring in Japan: Your Best Bet At Catching Cherry Blossoms

You can Google for photos, but there’s really nothing quite like stepping into a floral paradise and being surrounded by pink cherry blossoms. Catching these iconic flowers in full bloom should be on everyone’s bucket list! But one must keep in mind that although cherry blossoms are incredibly beautiful, they are also incredibly fleeting. Many novice blossom chasers make the mistake of not doing enough research before planning their trip to Japan, only to find themselves late to the party.

If you’ve missed it before or simply don’t know where to begin, fret not. You’re not alone. In fact, there are so many others who are obsessed with the elusive flower that there’s even research dedicated to predicting cherry blossom bloom dates! Many local meteorological companies have devoted research and resources into forecasting exactly where and when the trees will be in full bloom. Geographical location and climate are some of the factors that affect blooming.

cherry blossom

Beautiful yet incredibly fragile, Cherry Blossoms have become a national icon of Japan.

Spring—now—is when all these enthusiasts come out to play, so expect to see a swarm of information and articles regarding the Cherry Blossom Festival. We understand that it can be overwhelming (not to say time-consuming) to sieve through them all, so we scour the internet for the best tips and tricks.

Here’s what we found:

Nature’s Patterns

Sakura trees are very sensitive to changes in the weather, and bloom when the temperatures rise following the arrival of spring. If the months leading up to spring are colder or warmer than usual, the time when cherry blossom trees bloom are likely to be affected.

Generally, islands that experience the turn of the seasons first, like Okinawa and Kyushu, tend to see Sakura blooms earlier. Over the course of spring, these blooms extend northwards through Honshu, and eventually to Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan.

cherry blossoms

Sakura blooms generally start from the south, and creep towards the north throughout spring.

Not only do weather conditions affect when the cherry blossoms will bloom, they also affect how long they stay in bloom for. The islands that experience subtropical climates like Okinawa will have a bloom duration of seven to 10 days, while colder temperate regions like Hokkaido experience shorter bloom spans of only four to six days. Also, keep in mind that harsh conditions like strong winds and rain may also cut short your cherry blossom viewing window.

Cherry Blossom Bloom Dates 2017

cherry blossoms

Catching Cherry Blossoms when in full bloom is not easy, but it will definitely be worth the effort!

Here are the cherry blossom forecasts in five major cities in Japan. For more information and updates, click here.

Tokyo 30 March – 7 April
Osaka 3 April – 11 April
Sapporo 6 May – 13 May
Fukuoka 30 March – 7 April
Sendai 13 April – 21 April

Stop to Smell the Flowers, and More!

cherry blossoms

Spring is also the season for Strawberries, which are usually enjoyed while appreciating Cherry Blossoms.

While in Japan during spring, remember to make the most out of the season. Follow local tradition by having a picnic under the sakura trees, or enjoy the seasonal produce like freshly picked strawberries. Watch out for the popular hanami bentos, which are exquisitely packed spring themed lunch boxes, and sakura mochi—a must-have dessert during the season!

Many outsiders take the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan at its face value. While it is indeed a stunning sight, the celebration actually means a lot more to the locals. The Cherry Blossom Festival coincides with the beginning of the academic and financial year and thus, is viewed by them as a symbol of fresh beginnings. Many Japanese take hanami (the act of cherry blossom watching) as an opportunity to get in touch with nature and appreciate the fleeting beauty of life and existence.

Whether you already have your tickets, or plan to make a trip next spring, we wish you a fruitful cherry blossom chase!

Check out tips on getting the full fun experience at Tokyo DisneySea, an insider’s guide to Roppongi in Tokyo, and why Hakone is a weekend hotspot in Japan.

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