Cover Page Photo

By Akira Shukla

Cherry Blossom and Mt. Fuji


Best Times to See Cherry Blossoms in Japan

Article By Gary Lane

 

Spring in Japan is unforgettably and rightly associated with Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) heralding Spring, a change in the seasons, at time of transition and renewal and new beginnings. In Japan the school year starts in April, the fiscal year starts in April, as does the hiring of new graduates into workplace careers. For most Japanese, April is the true start of the year.  And it is one of the best times to visit Japan.

Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing)


It is a time Japanese celebrate with aplomb with Hanami, which literally translated means flower-viewing. But it is most commonly associated with the viewing of Cherry Blossoms. Japanese do it in style – picnicking (drinking, snacking, and in some cases feasting, and drinking some more) with groups of friends, family and work colleagues. These parties can take place anytime and anywhere there is a blooming Sakura tree in view, even in public cemeteries! The picnicking occurs throughout the day, and corporate Japan is known to blow off an afternoon or two to bond together over sake, wine, and culinary treats shared underneath the cherry blossoms. Good viewing spots in and around the cities can be in high demand, so in many cases the very first significant responsibility of the new hires into a corporation is to go early to secure the Hanami space for their colleagues to enjoy together later in the day.



Cherry Blossoms are also wonderful to view at night. Hanami viewing at night, known as “Yozakura” has a totally different vibe and atmosphere to it. It is enjoyed by pretty much everyone, but especially so by young couples and hopeless romantics. The beauty is fleeting and it lends an odd sense of melancholy to the beauty and excitement of new life bursting forth in these special colors. The flowers typically last only two-three weeks, and one good wind storm can pretty much end the viewing period overnight. Sakura reflect life so well on so many levels. It is nature and unpredictable…you never know when something will mature and so it is with Sakura.



Best Times to View


Forecasting the start and peak viewing is a national pastime with sites and heavy reporting dedicated to it. But at the end of the day it is all just a forecast. Over the years, you can see the average Sakura bloom around Tokyo is the last week of March through the first two weeks of April, while around Kyoto it tends to be slightly early. Here is one of our favorite sites where you can see averages for various areas of Japan and stay up to date with the latest forecasts. The Sakura are exceptionally beautiful and worth seeing. If you are thinking of visiting during this period, do plan well in advance. You will not be alone in enjoying one of the most highly anticipated periods of the year.



















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