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Sakura Forecast 2024: Early Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo and Kyoto

Expect cherry blossoms in Tokyo as early as March 23 and full bloom on March 30, says the Japan Meteorological Corporation in its first forecast.



© JAPAN Forward

As the New Year progresses, visitors are starting to plan their travels to Japan. And one of the most popular attractions is the sight of Japanese cherry blossoms everywhere you go. 

The Japan Meteorological Corporation (JMC) has released the first predictions for when to expect cherry trees to bloom in 2024. Somei Yoshino, the cloud-like pale pink variety of flowering cherry most associated with the season, provides the basis for the JMC's estimates. 

The earliest dates are expected in Kochi, along the inland sea in western Japan on March 18. Shortly thereafter, the blossoms open further on, including in Tokyo on March 23. That is one day earlier than average. In 2024, JMC predicts the blossoms will spread quickly, with cherry trees beginning to flower in Kyoto on the same day, March 23. That qualifies as three days earlier than average. 

Up north, Aomori and Sapporo are expected to see their first blossoms on April 21 and May 2, respectively. 

Inokashira Park in Tokyo during cherry blossom season. (© Sankei)

A Tradition of Hanami

The cherry blossom season is a favorite among the Japanese, as is evident from Japanese art and literature. It's an opportunity to enjoy the arrival of a new season and celebrate new life amidst the beautiful flowers. 

Coincidentally, it also marks the start of the new fiscal year in Japan. Following that pattern, companies and schools begin their year on April 1 as well. Therefore, the beautiful blossoms are also associated with many new forms of personal and professional life. 

People in Japan traditionally celebrate with a practice called hanami, or cherry blossom viewing. In practice, it means a picnic enjoyed under the blooming trees. This could be an office party in Ueno Park in Tokyo, or even just family or friends enjoying a snack under a cherry tree in the park next to their house. 

Recently, more and more tourists from abroad travel to Japan during this time of year. The mild weather and abundant blossoms make it one of the most popular traveling seasons in Japan. 

Cherry Blossom viewing in Meguro, Tokyo, on April 2, 2022. (© Sankei)

Behind the Cherry Blossom Schedule

Cherry trees, like many plants in temperate climates, have a dormant and blooming period. Both are key for the flowers to develop. The flowers first start to develop in the dormant period when it's cold. Warm autumns and winters are thought to prolong the dormant period. However, as the temperatures rise, the spring blooming period speeds up.

In 2024, the JMC predicts there will be higher temperatures in spring. Those will help compensate for the slightly longer than average dormant period due to the warm autumn months.   

Before travelers start booking their flights, it's worth keeping in mind that the date featured in the first forecast refers to when flowers are expected to begin blossoming. Full bloom dates generally come several days later. In the case of Tokyo, full bloom in 2024 is expected on March 30. 

Somei yoshino in bloom at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on March 20, 2022. (© Sankei by Takumi Kamoshida)

It's also worth noting that this is the first of a handful of forecasts, and the dates might change slightly in the coming weeks. In any event, tourists should have some days of leeway when planning their travels. 

And for those who can't make it to Japan during that brief period of color, there is no need to worry. Japan has a plethora of cherry blossom varieties apart from Somei Yoshino, which can be enjoyed during other months of the year. Every variety has its own beauty so be sure to look for those as well. 

You are now prepared to enjoy the cherry blossom season! 

For particularly interested fans, the JMC allows users to track the flowering status of cherry trees in locations around Japan, and catch the trees at the right time. The site is accessible on browsers. There are also apps for iPhone and Android


Author: Arielle Busetto

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