💮 The cherry blossom season, sakura blooms, hanami, that time of year when all the pretty pink and white flowers begin blooming in Japan. One of Japan’s favourite times of year and one of the most recognizable images of Japan internationally. A warm sunny day with a soft breeze, lightly blowing the pink flower petals in the wind before landing like a blanket on a river. The image of cherry blossoms in Japan is so fantastic it’s hard to believe it’s real. Lucky for us, and anyone visiting, it is very real. It’s easy to see them when you live here (in fact you can’t miss it), the blooming flowers let us know spring has arrived, but what if you don’t live here? Cherry blossoms only bloom for 1-2 weeks and their peak beauty is only a few days in that time. How do you plan a trip to Japan and avoid missing one of Japan’s favourite times of year?
How Long Does The Sakura Season Last?
💮 So, the sakura only bloom for 1-2 weeks, and that’s a very short time to make sure everything lines up so you can get the full effect of the cherry blossoms. Fortunately, although a tree will only have its flowers for a short time, across all of Japan the hanami season is spread out over almost 2 months. It can be difficult to time a vacation or travel to perfectly line up with a 1 or 2 week even in nature, but 1-2 months is a little more manageable.
“But if the cherry blossoms only last a little while, how is the season almost 2 months long?”
Well that’s easy to answer. Japan runs (mainly) South to North and the sakura season follows the same path.
💮 While for the most part the sakura season is said to start in early April, that is just a general time to you’re able to see them in popular tourist areas. Cherry blossoms grow and bloom along with the seasons. After the cooler winter, the warm spring gives sakura trees that gentle nudge saying “It’s time to wake up and share your flowers!”. In places like Okinawa (Japan’s popular southern island) this can begin as early as January. On the other hand in Hokkaido (the most northern part of Japan) this can happen as late as May. A fairly big difference to the 1-2 weeks in early April most people are told.
As you go more noth in Japan, the climate gets cooler, and the effect is strong enough for seasonal changes to begin at different times. We see this with sakura and koyo (autumn leaves) as very clear examples. If you really wanted to, you could start in the south of Japan and go on a cherry blossom tour exploring all of the most beautiful places across the country for nearly 2 months before the season ends.
Japanese Cherry Blossom Forecast
💮 Mother nature is always a little unpredictable, but here’s a rough guide for when you might expect to see cherry blossoms blooming across the country.
💮 We know many people who come to visit Japan are coming for more than just the sakura. You may come for the food, the culture, the history, or the bustling cities. While we encourage people to experience everything Japan has to offer outside of Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, these places are generally must-sees on most people’s Japan bucket list. In these locations you are generally expecting to see sakura at the end of March and early April. If you do have the chance, it can absolutely be worth making your way out of these areas to see some beautiful scenery covered in pink and white cherry blossoms. Especially if you are worried about missing hanami in any of those main locations mentioned above.
💮 Cherry blossoms are beautiful everywhere and the celebration is happening across all of Japan. It is absolutely an experience worth having at least once in your life!