Spring and the Cherry Blossom Season Japan is nothing short of a magical experience. From late March to mid-April or even early May, the country’s iconic sakura (cherry blossoms) draw the attention of visitors and locals alike as their beautiful blossoms envelop the land in soft pink splendor. It is one of the best tourist destinations on Peak Season.
Cherry blossom season begins in Kyushu in southwestern Japan in March, and daily news follows the cherry blossom front as it moves north. The most common cherries are Somei-Yoshino with lots of light pink flowers. Don’t miss the elegant shidare-zakura, weeping cherries that often grow in parks and along riverbanks.
The History of Cherry Blossom Season Japan
The tradition of cherry blossom viewing, or hanami, has been a part of Japanese culture for centuries. In fact, the first recorded hanami party dates back to the Nara period, which ran from 710 to 794 AD. During this time, Japanese aristocrats would gather together to appreciate the beauty of the cherry blossoms and write poetry inspired by their delicate blooms.
Over time, the tradition of hanami spread to the general population, and today, people from all walks of life gather under the cherry trees to enjoy picnics, drink sake, and celebrate the arrival of spring. In many ways, cherry blossom season has become a symbol of renewal and hope, representing the beauty and fleeting nature of life itself.
How long do cherry blossom Season Japan lasts?
Cherry blossoms bloom for about a week in Japan. But if you can’t make it to the top, don’t worry: you can also see late-blooming cherry blossoms in cooler areas, right up until April.
Also know that “peak bloom” doesn’t mean the trees will bloom right away – you’ll still be able to enjoy them for about two more weeks.
When is the cherry blossom season expected in Japan in 2023?
The dates below are according to the official cherry blossom forecast from the Japan Meteorological Corporation as of March 24, 2022.
The forecast is based on a variety of factors, including fall and winter minimum temperatures and past area data.
Many cherry blossom viewing events and festivals have been canceled or curtailed in 2022 due to Covid-19.
The Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Japan
Spots of Japanese cherry blossoms can be found in over 1,000 locations across the country, so picking just one best spot is hard. We found it easier to come up with our sampling of amazing places by region.
In the cooler regions of northern Japan, the cherry blossom season usually occurs later than the rest of the country. Sakura in Sendai in the Tohoku region was scheduled to open at the end of March.
While cherry blossoms can be found all over Japan, some locations are particularly famous for their sakura displays. Here are a few of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan:
Tokyo: Japan’s capital city is home to a number of beautiful cherry blossom viewing spots, including Ueno Park, Shinjuku Gyoen, and Yoyogi Park.
Kyoto: With its numerous temples and shrines, Kyoto is a popular destination for cherry blossom viewing. Some of the best spots include Maruyama Park, Philosopher’s Path, and Ninnaji Temple.
Nara: This historic city is home to some of Japan’s oldest and most impressive cherry trees, including the famous yoshino cherry trees of Yoshinoyama.
Hirosaki: Located in the northern region of Tohoku, Hirosaki Castle is surrounded by over 2,500 cherry trees that create a stunning pink and white sea of flowers.
Mount Yoshino: This mountain in Nara Prefecture is home to over 30,000 cherry trees, making it one of the most spectacular sakura viewing spots in Japan.
The last cherry blossoms in Japan to open are expected to be in Hokkaido in late April.
Japan has a special connection with the cherry blossom, to the point that some would even call it the country’s national flower. It is home to more than a hundred varieties of cherries, including wild and cultivated varieties.
Trees are also distinguished by the number of petals, the color of the petals, the shape of the tree, the color of the leaves, and whether the leaves arrive with the flowers or after the flowering period. Trees with flowers of more than five petals are called yaezakura.
Weeping cherries—those with drooping branches—are called shidarezakura. Somei Yoshino with five-petal flowers of white or light pink color is among the most commonly found cherries in Japan. The Ukon variety is known for its pale yellow flowers. While the flowering period can last up to 14 days, there are some varieties that only bloom for a few days. A great way to enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms in Japan is to watch them change as the days go by.
Cherry blossoms bloom at different times around the country and can come earlier or later in the year depending on the weather. In general, the cherry blossom season starts in January and peaks in late March in the Honshu area, while Hokkaido specifically is in full bloom in May.
The best time to see cherry blossoms in Japan is during the cherry blossom festival, during which hanami is practiced to celebrate the beauty of the pink blossoming trees. The festival brings crowds of tourists who all gather in parks across the country to celebrate the beauty of the cherry blossoms.
Tips for Enjoying Cherry Blossom Season in Japan
If you’re planning to visit Japan during cherry blossom season, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your experience:
Check the blooming forecast: Cherry blossom season typically runs from late March to early May, but the exact timing of the blooms can vary depending on the weather. Check the blooming forecast before you go to make sure you don’t miss the peak blooms.
Bring a picnic: One of the best ways to enjoy cherry blossom season is to have a picnic under the trees. Bring some sake, snacks, and a blanket, and enjoy the beauty of nature with friends and family.
Respect the trees: While it’s tempting to pluck a few cherry blossoms as a souvenir, it’s important to remember that these trees are an important part of Japanese culture and should be treated with respect. Don’t climb on the trees or damage the branches in any way.
Be prepared for crowds: Cherry blossom season is one of the busiest times of year in Japan, so be prepared for large crowds and long lines. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting some of the less popular sakura viewing spots.
Cherry blossom season in Japan is a truly magical time, filled with beauty, tradition, and celebration