This year's cherry blossom (sakura) season in Tokyo started on March 14, a week earlier compared to last year and almost two weeks earlier than the average year. Warmer than average temperatures can be attributed for the earlier blooming season. Schauwecker was in Tokyo two days after the official kaika announcement, and he reported that the blossoms at the spots he visited had just opened.

Elsewhere in the country, Kumagaya in Saitama Prefecture and Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture announced the opening on their first blossoms (kaika) on March 18, both also earlier compared to the average year.

Today, I headed to Tokyo to check out the state of the sakura at some of the city's popular cherry blossom spots. Compared to three days ago, slightly more flowers have opened, but many more require another day or two to be at their best. The five-day weather forecast for Tokyo is warm and sunny, and I expect the best viewing in Tokyo to start in the next 2-3 days and continue to be at their best through next week.

Asukayama Park

Just Opened

I started my morning at Asukayama Park, a popular cherry blossom spot across from Oji Station on the JR Keihin-Tohoku Line. There are about 600 cherry trees in Asukayama Park, and about 400 are the mainstream Somei Yoshino species.

I found the cherry blossoms here to have just opened with more flowers still in their buds. However, the closed buds looked like the only need a day or two of warm weather, which is also forecast for the next few days, before they all explode open. I expect the park to be filled with opened blossoms by Saturday and Sunday, and the best viewing period to continue from then through to next week.

Ueno Park

Blossoms Opening

When Schauwecker visited Ueno Park three days ago, there few open blossoms. Today, not much has changed and only a few more have opened since. However, many of the closed buds I saw today were almost ready to open, and I expect many blossoms to open in the next day or two. The best viewing is expected to start in the next 2-3 days and continue through to next week.

Sumida Park

Just Opened

Located along the Sumida River in the Asakusa district, the Sumida Park is a popular cherry blossom spots in Tokyo. The park is home to about 500 cherry trees and offers a great view of the Tokyo Skytree. Today, I found the cherry blossoms to have just opened with only a few blossoms open on some trees. Like the previous two places I visited, the rest of the blossoms look like they only need a few more days before they all open and reach their best viewing in 2-3 days.

Shinjuku Gyoen

Blossoms Opening

Finally, my last stop for today was the ever popular Shinjuku Gyoen. The large park has around 1000 cherry trees with about 65 different species, from early flowering to mainstream to late flowering ones. This wide variety allows for a relatively long sakura season at Shinjuku Gyoen, and a place where visitors can still see cherry blossoms outside of the main season. From March 25 to April 24, the park will be open everyday from 9:00 - 18:00.

The early and late flowering cherry trees in Shinjuku Gyoen were obviously at different stages of opening when I was there today. The early flowering ones were at full bloom, while the late flowering ones were a week or two away from blossoming. The mainstream Somei Yoshino cherry trees on the other hand, had between 10-20 percent of their flowers open, and the rest didn't look too far away either.

Warm and sunny weather is predicted for the next few days, and I expect many of the blossoms to open in the next 1-2 days. The best viewing period is forecast to start in about 2-3 days, and the peak of the sakura season to start from next week.