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 (January 10): The Japan Meteorolgical Corporation (JMC) just released the first forecast for when cherry blossoms will start to flower (kaika) and reach full bloom (mankai). The next update will be published on January 24.
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 2020, 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 or in Kyoto) 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.
Cherry blossom season 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, blooming 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 2020 forecast by region
The first forecast has been recently released, with flowers are expected to open earlier than usual: on March 19 in Tokyo, and March 23 in Kyoto. and to reach full bloom on March 27. will start between January and February and will be updated weekly throughout the season, usually up to the end of April and early May.
The cherry blossoms usually start from the south, at the end of March, in Kyushu, where the temperature will begin to rise earlier, and the cherry blossoms will bloom northward until early May in Hokkaido.
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 6||May 11|
|Hokkaido||Hakodate||May 1||May 4|
|Hokkaido||Sapporo||May 1||May 5|
|Aomori||Aomori||April 23||April 27|
|Iwate||Morioka||April 17||April 23|
|Miyagi||Sendai||April 7||April 12|
|Akita||Akita||April 16||April 21|
|Yamagata||Yamagata||April 13||April 17|
|Fukushima||Fukushima||April 5||April 10|
|Tokyo||Tokyo||March 19||March 27|
|Ibaraki||Mito||March 29||April 5|
|Tochigi||Utsunomiya||March 27||April 3|
|Gunma||Maebashi||March 24||March 31|
|Saitama||Kumagaya||March 28||March 31|
|Chiba||Choshi||March 24||April 4|
|Kanagawa||Yokohama||March 23||April 1|
|Niigata||Niigata||April 5||April 11|
|Toyama||Toyama||April 1||April 6|
|Ishikawa||Kanazawa||April 1||April 7|
|Fukui||Fukui||March 31||April 5|
|Aichi||Nagoya||March 21||March 30|
|Gifu||Gifu||March 21||March 29|
|Shizuoka||Shizuoka||March 22||March 31|
|Mie||Tsu||March 27||March 31|
|Yamanashi||Kofu||March 23||March 30|
|Nagano||Nagano||April 9||April 14|
|Osaka||Osaka||March 25||April 1|
|Kyoto||Kyoto||March 23||April 1|
|Shiga||Hikone||March 39||April 6|
|Hyogo||Kobe||March 25||April 3|
|Nara||Nara||March 27||April 3|
|Wakayama||Wakayama||March 24||April 1|
|Hiroshima||Hiroshima||March 22||April 1|
|Tottori||Tottori||March 27||April 3|
|Shimane||Matsue||March 27||April 3|
|Okayama||Okayama||March 25||April 2|
|Yamaguchi||Shimonoseki||March 24||April 2|
|Tokushima||Tokushima||March 26||April 3|
|Kagawa||Takamatsu||March 25||April 3|
|Ehime||Matsuyama||March 23||April 3|
|Kochi||Kochi||March 19||March 27|
|Fukuoka||Fukuoka||March 29||March 29|
|Saga||Saga||March 23||March 31|
|Nagasaki||Nagasaki||March 23||April 1|
|Kumamoto||Kumamoto||March 20||March 29|
|Oita||Oita||March 22||April 3|
|Miyazaki||Miyazaki||March 23||April 2|
|Kagoshima||Kagoshima||March 25||April 5|
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.