This year's cherry blossom season so far has been about a week earlier compared to the average year due to warmer temperatures in March. Despite a couple of cold weather days over the spring equinox which also brought light snow to some parts of the greater Tokyo area, the season has continued progressing at a relatively quick pace. Warm weather is forecast for this weekend as well as for the rest of the coming week and I expect the cherry blossom viewing period in many cities in western Japan to start over the next few days.
Today, I went to a couple of popular cherry blossom viewing spots in Osaka to see how they were progressing after kaika was announced in the city on March 20, 2018, four days ago. I found that while many of the cherry trees had more closed buds than open blossoms, many of the buds were almost ready to pop open in the higher temperatures. Despite the current low number of open blossoms, I would not be surprised if the majority of the flowers blossom over the warm weekend. The best viewing period in Osaka is predicted to begin by early next week.
In exactly a week since the opening of the first blossoms (kaika) was announced in Tokyo, full bloom (mankai) was announced officially in Tokyo today. After opening, the flowers typically remain sturdy for about three to four days before being susceptible to inclement weather. Those in the city now can look forward to the cherry blossom spectacular over this weekend and next week as mild and sunny weather is forecast for the next few days.
There are over 3000 cherry trees on the grounds of Osaka Castle and today, I found that many of the trees had some blossoms open. Many of the flower buds looked like they needed a few more hours or a day or two of warmth before popping open, and I'm sure the park will be awash in a sea of pale pink flowers in no time. I made my way to Nishinomaru Garden at the western end of the castle grounds where there are about 300 cherry trees. Like the rest of the castle park, the flowers were just opening. The garden is also a spot to view the castle and cherry blossoms together. Admission into Nishinomaru Garden costs 350 yen and the trees are illuminated from 18:00 to 21:00 until April 15, 2018.
At the Expo 70 Commemorative Park in Osaka, the cherry trees tend to bloom a little later compared to the ones in the city. Today, I found most of the trees to have few or no open blossoms but there were some trees that had more flowers open. The best viewing period still a few days away at the Expo Park and from March 28 to April 15, 2018, the sakura festival will begin. Visitors can look forward to more open blossoms, evening illumination from 18:00 to 21:00, food stalls and a ceramics fair in a few days from now.