Following a two-year absence due to the effects of the coronavirus, we are delighted to once again bring you the latest updates on this year's cherry blossom season. With Japan's meteorological agency marking the official start of Tokyo's season yesterday, I visited four of the city's most important cherry blossom viewing spots to check on their progress so far.

After several weeks of warm and sunny weather, the blossom appears to be on track for one of the earliest full blooms on record with optimal viewing from as early as around March 21. Tokyo was the first major city on Japan's four main islands to announce the start of the blossoms' opening this year. Nearby Yokohama followed suit today.

At the sites I visited today, trees belonging to the most common Somei Yoshino variety were generally beginning to open, typically showing just a handful of blossoms. Earlier blossoming varieties meanwhile were approaching or in some cases already past full bloom, making for some very pleasant scenes.

Ueno Park

Just Opened

My first stop of the day was at this public park, in previous years a popular choice for lively hanami parties. While it looks set to receive a large number of visitors however, numerous signposts indicate that the more traditional hanami experience will not be permitted along the park's main Sakura Dori Avenue this year.

On the trees lining the main avenue, buds had just begun to open, but with currently just a very light scattering of blossoms. While visitors can already enjoy some earlier-blossoming trees at the southwestern corner of the park, best viewing experience can be expected from around March 21.


About To Open

At this popular viewing spot by the moat surrounding the former Edo Castle, the cherry blossom trees were noticeably a little behind those of the other sites I visited today, possibly due to the slight cooling effect of the waters below. At the time of my visit, buds generally appeared right on the cusp of beginning to open and are expected to do so by tomorrow.

Picnics and the use of tarps are not permitted along Chidorigafuchi; however, lighting equipment has been set up for beautiful illuminations that are scheduled to be held daily from March 24 to April 4 until 10pm.

Yasukuni Shrine

Just Opened

Located just a few steps from Chidorigafuchi, the Yasukuni Shrine is not only an important cultural site but contains a number of beautiful cherry blossom trees, including the one chosen to illustrate for official purposes the state of cherry blossom in the city.

Shinjuku Gyoen

Just Opened

Having relaxed its rules this year to the same as before the pandemic period, this large park in Tokyo's busy Shinjuku district is an ideal choice for those looking for a traditional hanami experience.

As with two of the three other sites I visited, the majority of cherry blossom trees here were just into the opening stage with around five days to wait until they approach full bloom, however the park is also dotted with quite a few early-blossoming trees, many of which are already approaching full bloom making for a very enjoyable visit even before then.