When do the cherry blossoms bloom?

Blossoms are opening

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When do they bloom?

The most important factor in determining the blooming time of cherry trees is the geographical location. Generally, the milder the climate, the earlier the blossoms open.

On Japan's southern, subtropical islands of Okinawa, cherry blossoms open as early as January, while on the northern island of Hokkaido, they bloom as late as May. In most major cities in between, including Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the cherry blossom season typically takes place in early April.

Furthermore, the blooming time of cherry trees differs from year to year depending on the weather. If the weather during the months and weeks preceding the cherry blossom season is mild, blossoms will open early. If it is cold, blossoms will open later. From year to year, the start of the blooming season typically varies by plus/minus one week, but larger deviations are also possible.

Full Bloom

How long do they bloom?

The cherry blossom season is relatively short. Full bloom (mankai) is usually reached within about one week after the opening of the first blossoms (kaika). Another week later, the blooming peak is over and the blossoms are falling from the trees. Strong wind and rain can cut the blooming season even shorter.

Cherry blossom forecasts

Every year, weather services and the media, including japan-guide.com, closely follow the so called "cherry blossom front" as it slowly moves northward. Note that the front generally indicates the opening of the first blossoms (kaika) rather than the arrival of full bloom (mankai).

Of course, not every tree in a city opens on the same day, as trees in shadowy places, for example, can bloom several days later than trees in sunny places. For this reason, a representative sample tree is selected to define the date of kaika (the opening of the first blossoms) for a whole city. In Tokyo, the sample tree is located at Yasukuni Shrine.

Hanafubuki: a blizzard of falling petals

Average blooming dates

The table below lists the average dates on which cherry trees open their first blossoms and reach full bloom for selected cities. Remember that the timings can vary widely from year to year.

City
Average Opening
Average Full Bloom
Sapporo
May 5
May 8
Hakodate
May 3
May 7
Hirosaki
April 24
April 30
Sendai
April 12
April 18
Tokyo
March 28
April 5
Yokohama
March 28
April 5
Nagoya
March 28
April 5
Matsumoto
April 12
April 17
Takayama
April 16
April 21
Kanazawa
April 6
April 11
Kyoto
March 31
April 7
Osaka
March 30
April 6
Nara
April 1
April 6
Kobe
March 30
April 6
Hiroshima
March 29
April 5
Takamatsu
March 30
April 6
Matsuyama
March 28
April 5
Fukuoka
March 26
April 3
Kumamoto
March 24
April 2
Kagoshima
March 26
April 3
Naha
January 19
February 4

Source: Japan Weather Association - dates refer to Somei Yoshino cherry trees, except for Naha where they refer to Kanhizakura.
Last updated: March 4, 2013
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