The Japanese cherry blossom, or sakura, has long been adored by people across the globe. It is regarded as a symbol of renewal, vitality, and beauty. During the spring season of each year, thousands travel to Japan to view the wondrous spectacle of these white or pink flowers blooming en masse.
Update: The latest forecast has been released (March 22)! Blooming dates are slightly ahead this year. Please check again for updates on the 2018 forecast in many major cities of Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto.
Japanese families also eagerly await this time. Many attend cherry blossom festivals or simply enjoy hanami, the tradition of viewing and enjoying the beauty of the cherry blossom. Many people indulge in picnics beneath the blooming cherry trees.
If you are planning a trip to see Japan’s famous cherry blossoms in 2018, there are two things to consider – where and when to visit. There are many prime locations with a variety of features – some have the oldest trees, others the most trees, and some are close to historic areas or other sites of interest. You can quickly and easily travel between many locations by train using your Japan Rail Pass.
Once you’ve decided on which of the best cherry blossom spots in Japan (or just in Tokyo) you will visit for Hanami, you will want to time your stay so that you will get the most from your cherry blossom experience. Why? Because not every location experiences full bloom at the same time.
When does the Cherry Blossom season start in Japan?
The sakura average blooming time can vary widely based on the geographical location within the country. Areas with milder winter climates produce earlier bloom times. Blooms usually open first in the southern region, and blooming progresses northward. Okinawa, for example, almost always produces the first blooms. Wind, rain, and temperature can cause the blossoms to appear either earlier or later than average and can lengthen or shorten the blooming season.
Throughout most of Japan, looming typically occurs in late March and early April. Some areas may produce blooms as early as January. The emergence of the first blossoms is called kaika – this emergence of flowers in usually what is indicated by the bloom forecasts. The peak, or mankai – the time when the most trees are in full bloom – occurs within about one week of emergence. In some years, the season extends into the month of May in the northern regions.
Cherry Blossom 2018 forecast by region
The estimated viewing dates are based on data collected in previous years, especially latest years 2016 and 2017, by the Japan Weather Association.
The 2018 sakura season is expected to be a little earlier both in central and southern Japan.
The best times to visit (full bloom) are expected to be this weekend (March 24) in Tokyo, and next week in Osaka (March 7), Hiroshima and Kyoto (March 27). Check again soon for updated information on your region of interest.
Please keep in mind that most flowers usually take a week to reach full bloom once flowering has begun and that full bloom also lasts around a week.
|Prefecture||Location||Flowering date||Full bloom date|
|Hokkaido||Muroran||May 2||May 7|
|Hokkaido||Hakodate||April 25||April 29|
|Hokkaido||Sapporo||April 29||May 3|
|Aomori||Aomori||April 17||April 22|
|Iwate||Morioka||April 13||April 19|
|Miyagi||Sendai||April 2||April 7|
|Akita||Akita||April 14||April 18|
|Yamagata||Yamagata||April 10||April 14|
|Fukushima||Fukushima||April 2||April 6|
|Ibaraki||Mito||March 23||March 30|
|Tochigi||Utsunomiya||March 24||March 30|
|Gunma||Maebashi||March 23||March 29|
|Saitama||Kumagaya||March 22||March 28|
|Chiba||Choshi||March 20||March 28|
|Tokyo||Tokyo||March 17||March 24|
|Kanagawa||Yokohama||March 19||March 26|
|Yamanashi||Kofu||March 23||March 28|
|Nagano||Nagano||April 4||April 10|
|Niigata||Niigata||April 5||April 10|
|Toyama||Toyama||March 29||April 4|
|Ishikawa||Kanazawa||March 29||April 4|
|Fukui||Fukui||March 30||April 4|
|Gifu||Gifu||March 19||March 27|
|Shizuoka||Shizuoka||March 18||March 27|
|Aichi||Nagoya||March 18||March 28|
|Mie||Tsu||March 23||March 27|
|Shiga||Hikone||March 26||April 2|
|Kyoto||Kyoto||March 22||March 29|
|Osaka||Osaka||March 20||March 27|
|Hyogo||Kobe||March 23||March 30|
|Nara||Nara||March 23||March 28|
|Wakayama||Wakayama||March 20||March 27|
|Tottori||Tottori||March 24||March 30|
|Shimane||Matsue||March 26||April 1|
|Okayama||Okayama||March 23||March 30|
|Hiroshima||Hiroshima||March 22||March 29|
|Yamaguchi||Shimonoseki||March 23||March 31|
|Tokushima||Tokushima||March 24||March 30|
|Kagawa||Takamatsu||March 22||March 30|
|Ehime||Matsuyama||March 19||March 29|
|Kochi||Kochi||March 15||March 19|
|Fukuoka||Fukuoka||March 19||March 26|
|Saga||Saga||March 20||March 29|
|Nagasaki||Nagasaki||March 17||March 28|
|Kumamoto||Kumamoto||March 17||March 28|
|Oita||Oita||March 23||March 31|
|Miyazaki||Miyazaki||March 16||March 28|
|Kagoshima||Kagoshima||March 17||March 28|
A Japanese hanami is an experience of a lifetime, especially if you must travel from afar! Don’t forget to check out our sakura travel tips when you plan ahead to visit the prime cherry blossom locations in Tokyo and all of Japan during their peak blooming season: you are sure to have a trip to remember with your Japan Rail Pass.