When is cherry blossom season in Japan?

A guide to Japan’s 2024 cherry blossom season and the best places to view the sakura blooms.

Spring has sprung in the Land of the Rising Sun, and with it comes a wave of blush-pink blossoms. Japan’s sakura season is famous the world over and marks the beginning of peak tourist season as thousands of people flock to the island country to see the flowers in full bloom. 

When is the 2024 cherry blossom season in Japan? 

The 2024 cherry blossom forecast predicts an early season with Tokyo and Osaka set to be the first cities blanketed in pink by March. Cherry blossoms continue to bloom for the next three months, with Japan’s northernmost Hokkaido Prefecture enjoying the sight as late as May. 

Cherry blossom trees in Japan typically bloom during spring, which usually occurs from March to April. During this time, blossom-themed events and festivals pop up all over the country, as do sakura-themed souvenirs, gifts, food and drinks. 

How long does the cherry blossom season in Japan last? 

From first bloom to the final fall from the branch, the cherry blossom peak is typically only two weeks. However, when the peak occurs depends on the location and weather. 

Cherry blossoms in Ueno Park in Tokyo, Japan
Ueno Park, Tokyo. © Unsplash/Yu Kato

Why is the cherry blossom season in Japan important? 

Also known as ‘sakura’ season, the celebration of cherry blossom season dates back centuries in Japan and is considered to symbolise a time of renewal. The practice of celebrating the sakura season is called Hanamai, a traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of blooms.

How is the cherry blossom season in Japan forecast? 

When and where cherry blossoms bloom in Japan depends entirely upon the weather. Cherry blossom trees are dormant during the winter months until a series of consecutive warm days, usually at the start of spring, trigger the blossoms to open. It’s a natural phenomenon that is important in the plant world. Due to this, some parts of Japan will see blossoms before others, with the southern prefectures warming up sooner than those in the north. 

Cherry blossoms at Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle. © Unsplash/Nomadic Julien & Yusheng Deng

Where to see cherry blossoms in Japan

Fukuoka

Pack a basket and plan a picnic in Fukuoka’s Nishi Park, which is home to around 1300 cherry blossom trees. With views of the city and an abundance of stalls selling food and drink throughout the season, it’s the perfect spot for an alfresco lunch. 

Hiroshima

Appreciate the flora and historic architecture of Japan at Hiroshima Castle, where around 450 cherry blossom trees circle the castle and line the moat. 

cherry blossoms at Hiroshima castle
Hiroshima Castle. © Adobe Stock

Osaka

Plan a walk on Mt Yoshino where cherry blossoms can be seen from the hiking trails and the mountainside ropeway. Mt Yoshino is one of the most popular viewing spots throughout the sakura season as around 30,000 cherry blossom trees of different varieties grow in the area. 

cherry blossoms on Mt. Yoshino in Osaka
Mt Yoshino in Osaka. © Adobe Stock

Ibaraki Prefecture

Often overlooked by international travellers, Ibaraki is well worth visiting during cherry blossom season because many of its trees are the double-flowering variety. As the name suggests, this variety has twice as many petals as the typical cherry blossom tree, and around 2,300 of these trees call Shizumine Park in Nakashi City home. 

Tohoku Region

Comprised 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 varieties – some of which are more than 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 illuminated display. 

cherry blossoms in Hirosaki Park in Aomori Prefecture.
Hirosaki Park in Aomori Prefecture. © Adobe Stock

Hokkaido

Hokkaido is the last area of Japan to experience the cherry blossom bloom. Visit Hokkaido Shrine next to Maruyama Park in Sapporo to see around 1,400 trees in full bloom around the shrine. Hokkaido is unique in that the region sees both cherry blossoms and white and red plum blossoms flourish at the same time. 

Tokyo

There are more than 1000 cherry blossom trees in Tokyo’s Ueno Park, and many of them line the pathway that stretches between Keisei Ueno Station and the Tokyo National Museum. The branches grow tall and wide during the blooming season, creating tunnel-like canopy of pink flowers. Chidorigafuchi Park is another fantastic spot to view the blossoms. Hire a paddle boat to see the colourful branches cascading down the banks of the river from the water. 

Get the full guide to the best places to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo here

Sensō-ji and Ueno Park in Tokyo
Sensō-ji and Ueno Park in Tokyo. © Unsplash/Yu Kato & Redd F

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