Staff Reports
Sean's Japan Travel Journal
by Sean, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2013/03/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo

For those who don't already know, the cherry blossoms at Tokyo have been making news recently for a record-setting start to the season. The official recorded date is March 16, ten days faster than the average year and spectacularly two weeks earlier than last year. Comparisons can be made between this Tokyo report and our reports at similar timings in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The reason for the quick start this year was a significantly warmer than average first few weeks of March, especially in the Kanto Region. With conducive temperatures forecast to continue over the next couple of days, the cherry trees of Tokyo are expected to reach full bloom over the weekend. This might have thrown some travellers off their travel plans; for those looking for Plan B, please check out this page for alternatives.

Elsewhere in the Kansai Region, temperatures had also risen suddenly in March after a cold winter but changes had been less dramatic. Thus, the start to the cherry blossom season here is expected to be early but not quite as much as in the Kanto Region. Cherry blossoms in Osaka opened today, and the ones in Kyoto are expected to start blooming on March 25. The recent situation can be seen on Scott's report yesterday.

Further south at Kyushu, the season has also started much faster than in the average year. Scott will be in the area to report about the cherry blossoms there over the next few days. Over at the northern end in Hokkaido and the Tohoku regions, temperatures hadn't varied that much from the average year, and therefore it is likely that we would see a relatively typical season.

Ueno Park
March 21, 2013 - approaching full bloom (50-80%)

Those that are coming to Ueno Park this weekend for hanami (cherry blossom watching) parties are in for a good time. Today, the trees were around the halfway mark. Many of the lower branches were already pretty full-looking while many buds on the higher branches seemed like they needed only another day or two of warm weather before they start unfolding. As tomorrow and Saturday is forecast to be warm, peak season is expected to arrive at the park this weekend.

Ueno Park in the morning
Nice blossoms
Early blooming variety Okanzakura were starting to shed petals
Some blossoms around the park's Shinobazu Pond

Sumida Park
March 21, 2013 - opening (10-50%)

The cherry trees at Sumida Park were at a less advanced stage than those at Ueno Park. Only about a quarter of the blossoms were in bloom for most trees, although some of them were more anxious to show off their pretty petals than the others. Visitors this weekend should be able to see some nice views here, although peak might arrive a day later than at Ueno Park.

Sumida Park, Sumida River and the Tokyo Skytree
Full-looking buds

Koishikawa Korakuen
March 21, 2013 - opening (10-50%) (Somei Yoshino)
March 21, 2013 - petals starting to fall (Weeping Cherries)

I was very surprised to see that the main weeping cherry tree close to the entrance at Koishikawa Korakuen had already passed its peak. Although weeping cherry blossoms generally bloom earlier than the mainstream variety of Somei Yoshino, I was expecting to see the tree at full bloom yet. The strong winds last night might have shortened the lifespan of its fragile flowers.

Interestingly, of the two other weeping cherry trees that were less than 50 meters away, one was in full bloom and the other was just starting to shed petals. The late blooming yaebeni weeping cherry tree which stood beside the main tree had only its first flowers open. The Somei Yoshino cherry blossoms were still about three days ahead of their peak, which means visitors to the garden can expect pleasant views for a week from now and possibly beyond.

Koishikawa Korakuen
Branches of the main weeping cherry tree (foreground), weeping cherry tree at full bloom (background)
Close up of some Somei Yoshino blossoms

Shinjuku Gyoen
March 21, 2013 - opening (10-50%) (Somei Yoshino)
March 21, 2013 - full bloom (Early blooming varieties)

Shinjuku Gyoen is a great cherry blossom spot because its spacious grounds is home to a wide variety of cherry trees. The range of cherry trees from early to late flowering ones prolongs the season here, and consequently visitors tend not to be disappointed.

Today I found several early blooming varieties at the park at their peak, while the Somei Yoshino, the most numerous cherry trees, were about at the quarter mark. However, many of the buds were full-looking and I wouldn't be surprised if peak is reached over the weekend as well.

Picnic-goers at Shinjuku Gyoen
Typical state of the blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen
Early blooming cherry blossom varieties attracting lots of attention
Beautiful Edo Higan tree in full bloom

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List of Posts:
2014/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2014/05/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsumae
2014/04/23 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fujigoko
2014/04/17 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takato
2014/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fujigoko
2014/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2014/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hikone
2014/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/04/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsuyama
2014/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2014/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2014/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/03/06 - Shopping around Northern Osaka
2014/01/23 - Nikko in Winter

2013/12/31 - Sean's Travel Highlights 2013
2013/12/06 - Kamakura Report
2013/11/26 - Tokyo Report
2013/11/22 - Kyoto Report
2013/11/21 - Miyajima Report
2013/11/19 - Korankei Report
2013/11/18 - Kyoto Report
2013/11/11 - Sakurayama Report
2013/11/08 - Karuizawa Report
2013/10/29 - Nikko Report
2013/10/18 - Nasu Report
2013/10/17 - Nikko Report
2013/10/14 - Mount Fuji Report
2013/10/10 - Oze Report
2013/09/27 - Alpine Route Report
2013/09/13 - Nakanojo Biennale 2013
2013/08/07 - Exploring Tokyo 2: Around the Tokyo Imperial Palace
2013/05/20 - Tottori Sand Museum 2013
2013/05/07 - Fuji Shibazakura Festival
2013/05/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2013/05/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
2013/04/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kitakami
2013/04/23 - Northern Kanto Flower Report
2013/04/17 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takayama
2013/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsumoto
2013/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2013/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2013/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Gunma
2013/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2013/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/03/31 - Visiting Shodoshima for the Setouchi Triennale 2013
2013/03/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/03/27 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2013/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagoya
2013/03/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2013/03/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2013/03/12 - Tokyo Early Cherry Blossom Report
2013/02/17 - Tokamachi Snow Festival
2013/02/16 - Zao Snow Monster Report
2013/02/15 - Yokote Kamakura Festival
2013/01/10 - Winter Visit to Manza Onsen
2013/01/02 - Tokyo New Year Report

2012/12/31 - Sean's Travel Highlights 2012
2012/12/11 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2012/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Takaosan
2012/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/15 - Autumn Color Report: Shosenkyo
2012/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Yamadera
2012/11/06 - Autumn Color Report: Naruko
2012/11/05 - Autumn Color Report: Hiraizumi
2012/11/01 - Autumn Color Report: Kuju
2012/10/26 - Autumn Color Report: Minakami
2012/10/24 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2012/10/16 - Autumn Color Report: Norikura
2012/10/12 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2012/10/09 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2012/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2012/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Kurodake
2012/09/27 - Autumn Color Report: Kogen Onsen
2012/09/26 - Autumn Color Report: Asahidake
2012/09/17 - Exploring Tokyo: Gate Bridge
2012/08/20 - Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2012
2012/06/27 - Hiking at Mount Azuma
2012/06/18 - Legoland Discovery Center opens in Odaiba
2012/06/18 - Hydrangea Flowers in Kamakura
2012/06/04 - Tokyo Skytree
2012/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sapporo
2012/05/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2012/05/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2012/04/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2012/04/29 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
2012/04/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kitakami
2012/04/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hiraizumi
2012/04/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sendai
2012/04/24 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukushima
2012/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2012/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hiroshima
2012/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2012/04/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2012/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2012/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kagoshima
2012/03/22 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2012/03/08 - Plum Blossom Report from Kairakuen, Mito
2012/03/07 - Trip to Iwaki, Fukushima
2012/02/21 - Plum Blossom Report from Tokyo
2012/01/30 - Skiing in Inawashiro, Fukushima
2012/01/27 - Kusatsu Hot Springs