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A large flower during the sakura forecast.
A large flower during the sakura forecast.

Sakura Forecast: The Ultimate Guide

Tokyo TerryTokyo Terry
Published Time
Posted on February 14, 2024
Modified Time
Updated last February 16, 2024

Do you know precisely when cherry blossoms will first open in your area? What about when the trees will be at their most beautiful? To know, you must pay attention to the sakura forecast! Otherwise, these flowers will disappear in the blink of an eye, and you may miss the cherry blossom season!

What are cherry blossoms?

Cherry blossoms (sakura) are the flowers of Japanese cherry trees. They are the most popular flowers in Japan and are an essential part of Japanese culture. The iconic blossom has been in Japanese logos and crests for centuries.

Cherry blossoms in Japan during the sakura forecast.
Cherry blossoms are the national flower of Japan. Image via Shutterstock

The 10 or so wild Japanese cherry trees in Japan are on hillsides across the country. You can find them easily when they bloom, as their bright colors contrast sharply against the surrounding mountainside. 

If you look carefully, you can spot them in the city, often in gardens. Centuries of mixing these original 10 types have resulted in over 100 varieties of cherry trees in Japan today. These mixed types do not bear any cherries; the flowers only last about 10 days. But they remain open for the entire flowering period, even at night!

When do they usually bloom?

Generally, their “day of opening” (kaikabi) first arrives in the warmer weather of southern Japan. Then the bloom dates move northward as the “cherry blossom front” (sakura zensen). But predicting the start of sakura season is not so simple. The different varieties of Japanese cherry trees also flower at different times!

A bunch of kawazu cherry blossoms during the sakura forecast.
Kawazu sakura is one of the more rare flowers .Image via Shutterstock

The kanhizakura cherry produces flowers in January and February in southern Japan. But in northern Japan, the “Winter Sakura” or Sargent’s Cherry flowers at this time. In late February and March, kawazu sakura blooms.

Then, the wild edohigan starts budding between late March and early April. The beautiful, double-flowered yaezakura sakura and wild mountain yamazakura start in late April. And shikizakura blooms twice a year in northern Japan – in spring and fall from mid-November to early December!

What’s the most common cherry blossom?

Luckily, the “Yoshino Cherry” (sumei yoshino) is Japan’s most common sakura variety. The trees are all clones, so they all flower between March and early May, regardless of where they grow in Japan. And because the trees are identical, the blooming times only differ by two or three days!

The Yoshino cherry blossoms.
The Yoshino cherry is the most common cherry blossom in Japan. Image via Shutterstock

The Japanese Meteorological Corporation observes cherry trees all over Japan to predict bloom dates. On January 25th, 2024, the agency released this year’s Japan cherry blossom 2024 forecast (sakura no kaikayoso). This year, cherry blossoms in Tokyo will appear on March 22nd and reach full bloom (mankaibi) on March 29th

Flowering will begin in Kyoto on March 23rd and bloom fully on March 31st. And in Osaka, buds will appear on March 26th, with full bloom on April 1st. Dates sometimes change to a few days earlier or later, so keep checking for updates in your area!

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What are some notable places to check out cherry blossoms?

Fuji Kawaguchiko

If you’re in the Fuji Five Lakes area, you can check out the Fuji-Kawaguchiko cherry blossom festival from March 30th to April 14th. Every year, hundreds of people visit the area to walk along the lake under the flowers.

Fuji Kawaguchiko.
Mt Fuji has a beautiful area to enjoy cherry blossoms. Image via Shutterstock

If you head to the lake’s north shore, you’ll see amazing views of Mt. Fuji framed by striking pink sakura. Besides flower viewing, the festival will also host a market with local food and craft products. And the activities continue after sunset with sakura illumination for night viewing (yozakura).

Goryokaku Fort

Goryokaku Fort in Hokkaido Prefecture was built in 1858. Its unique star shape was based on the European-style forts that were popular then. Today, it is a public park and is the most popular place to view sakura in Hakodate.

Goryokaku Fort during the spring.
Goryokaku Fort is in Hokkaido. Image via Shutterstock

From early May, 1,500 cherry blossom trees of different types bloom throughout the unique star-shaped grounds. You can also climb Goryokaku Tower to enjoy the view from above. This year, the first sakura is expected to appear on April 20th.

Shinjuku Gyoen 

Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo was originally the private mansion of an Edo-era feudal lord. 1906 it opened to the public as an imperial garden and has been a significant attraction ever since. It is one of the most essential Western-style gardens in Japan.

Cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen.
Shinjuku Gyoen is a beautiful private garden with multiple types of trees! Image via Shutterstock

Besides having about 10,000 foreign trees, such as tulips, cedars, and cypresses, it is also a popular place for viewing cherry blossoms in March and April. But you will need a reservation on some days for the 2024 sakura season, so check the park’s official website.

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle has had a long history of destruction and rebuilding. It was finally completed as we see it today during the Edo period (1603-1867). Today, it is a favorite spot to view cherry blossoms in the Kansai area. The castle grounds contain about 3,000 cherry blossom trees. There is also the very special Nishinomaru Garden. 

Osaka Castle during the spring, after the sakura forecast.
Osaka Castle has some of the best cherry blossoms in Japan! Image via Shutterstock

This is the location of the cherry blossom tree used to officially signal the start of the viewing season in the area. At night, the sakura trees and castle are illuminated to create dramatic views of the castle. Besides the usual sakura species, late-blooming double cherry blossoms stay open until very late in the season.

Why is the sakura forecast so important?

Besides continuing tradition, the Japanese Meteorological Corporation provides accurate sakura information for people all over the country. Local governments also depend heavily on it to plan their various activities. Additionally, the forecast is also a way to monitor the health of Japan’s cherry blossoms. By comparing the bloom dates, scientists can watch for the effects of disease and global warming. 

A cherry blossom tree near Senso-ji Temple.
What are you looking forward to during this sakura forecast? Image via Shutterstock

The sakura forecast undoubtedly plays a significant role in protecting a valuable Japanese resource. You should definitely make good use of it to get the most out of this year’s sakura season! How accurate is the cherry blossom forecast in your area? Do you know the bloom dates for any other cherry types not mentioned? Feel free to report them below!

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