Japan’s Cherry Blossom season has kicked off one month early, here’s how to see it best

Himeji, Japan - April 3, 2016: Himeji Castle with beautiful cherry blossom in spring season. It  is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture
Edited by Travel Weekly

    Japan’s annual cherry blossom will begin earlier than normal this year with Tokyo and Osaka forecast to be the first locations to see the colourful blooms in March.

    But while Japan’s southernmost regions will be beautifully spruced with cherry blossoms in only a few weeks, the season continues for almost three months with cherry blossoms emerging in Japan’s northernmost Hokkaido Prefecture as late as mid-May – leaving plenty of time to witness this annual spectacle.

    2024 forecast:

    Why is Cherry Blossom season significant?

    Sakura season has been celebrated for centuries in Japan. The emerging blossoms symbolise a time for renewal, as well as serving as a reminder of the transient nature of existence, beauty, and the importance of ‘being the moment’.

    After remaining dormant during the icy winter months, Japan’s cherry blossom trees sense the arrival of spring after experiencing several warm days in a row. Forecasters know that a string of warm days will trigger the required “temperature sum” for the blossoms to open, which is also an important signal in the broader plant world.

    Japan’s cherry blossom season is firmly in the hands of the weather, which is why you’ll always see earlier blooms in Japan’s warmer southern prefectures compared to in the north, and the exact onset of the seasons will vary everywhere from year to year. If winter clings on for longer than usual, you can expect the season to begin later than average, but if it seems like spring is in the air early, those beautiful blooms will probably be right around the corner.

    The best ways to experience Cherry Blossom season in 2024

    Fukuoka: Nishi Park in the north of the city is home to around 1,300 cherry blossom trees making it a top location to view the blooms. First opened in 1875, this historic park with views of the city, Hakata Bay, and its islands is a popular spot for picnics in spring and you’ll find abundant stalls selling food and drink during the flowering season.

    Nishi Park, Fukuoka. (Image – JNTO.) 

    Osaka: Mt Yoshino has been a top viewing spot for centuries with its vast area home to 30,000 cherry blossom trees of different varieties. The cherry blossoms are easily visible from the many walking trails as well as the ropeway up the mountainside.

    Mt Yoshino. (Image – JNTO.) 

    Tohoku Region: Mostly made up of rural communities, sprawling national parks, and hot spring resorts, Tohoku covers six of Honshu’s prefectures. Hirosaki Park in Aomori Prefecture is one of the region’s best cherry blossom viewing locations with around 2,300 trees and 50 different varieties – some of which are over 300 years old. Walk along the Sakura Tunnel on the West Moat, admire Hirosaki Castle among the blooms, or visit the park at night to see a spectacular display of illuminated colourful blooms.

    Hirosaki Park. (Image – JNTO.) 

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