Cherry blossom season is a big deal in Japan – and it’s easy to see why. The delicate ‘sakura’ blossoms are heart-achingly beautiful, with it almost a national obsession to follow and predict the exact moment when the small, pastel pink buds will emerge.
Why are cherry blossoms so important to the Japanese? Because of what they symbolise. More than a visually-stunning display, they represent a time of renewal – a metaphor for the fleeting nature of existence, the transience of beauty, and the essence of ‘being the moment’. Plus, timing is everything, with the blooming period dictated by the weather.
Forecasts for when the blossoms will flower (kaika) and reach full bloom (mankai) are checked and then re-checked as the season approaches. When they finally arrive, millions flock to parks and city streets to enjoy harami – picnicking under the blossoming trees.
So how do you know when the flowers will bloom, and how long will they last? We have the Japan Meteorological Corporation to thank for that. Their forecast is usually spot on.
What’s the 2022 cherry blossom forecast for Japan?
A new report from the Japan Meteorological Corporation (JMC) has revealed they’ll bloom 5-10 days earlier than average this year. Sakura season will begin in the south from 24th of March, with Tokyo and Nagoya the first places to enjoy the delicate pale-pink flowers. It’ll then slowly make its way up north, reaching Osaka and Kyoto around the 28th of March, Kanazawa on the 5th of April, before finally arriving Sapporo around the 30th of April.
Where to see best cherry blossoms in Japan
While they can be seen throughout the country, these are some of the standout locations.
Ueno Park – Tokyo
By far the most famous viewing area in Tokyo. It’s home to over 1000 trees, most of which line the path between Keisei Ueno Station and Tokyo National Museum. The branches from either side are so long that they reach out overhead, creating a tunnel-like effect.
With over 30,000 cherry trees of different varieties adorned with blossoms, this is one of the most enchanting viewing locations in Japan – and photos cannot do it justice. The trees can be seen during early to mid-April as guests wind their way along the mountain trails, ride the mountain ropeway, or enjoy the pink trees from the nearby town.
Philosopher’s Path – Kyoto
With ancient landmarks and quaint streets on every corner, Kyoto makes for picture-perfect cherry blossom gorgeousness. One of the viewing spots is the Philosopher’s Walk, near the Silver Pavilion. The path is around 2kms long and takes 30 minutes or so, though it’ll probably take you a bit longer as you get distracted by the dazzling pastel display.
What’s better than a cherry blossom? A double cherry blossom, which is the variety you’ll encounter in the under-the-radar gem of Ibaraki Prefecture. For the best display, head to Shizumine Park in Nakashi City, which is home to around 2300 trees.
The further north you travel, the later the blooming period. So, if you miss them down south, you may still have luck up north. Tohoku is a region worth visiting. It’s mostly made up of rural communities, national parks, and hot spring resorts, with plenty of hidden gems to discover like Shirakawago, the Takayama Spring Festival, and Lake Towada.