We Have Japan’s First Cherry Blossom Forecast for 2019

Schedule your trip in time for the cherry blossoms.

As the cold days in Japan continue,
Weathernews Inc. announces its first cherry blossom forecast. According to the January 16 report, West and East Japan will either experience a normal (as compared to the average of the last five years) or an earlier blooming season, while North Japan is expected to have a normal schedule. However, comparing the schedule to last year’s forecast, where the nationwide blooming season was early, this year, it is deemed late.  

Cherry blossom forecast of the sakura viewing (hanami) spots in Japan

Did the mild winter affect the late “breaking of dormancy” of the sakura trees? Did it cause a delay in the blooming season of West and East Japan?

An infographic showing the connection between the blooming season and the temperature

Dormancy breaking
, the stage where a dormant flower bud wakes up from its inactivity to continue its development, is a big factor in determining cherry blossom season. Cherry blossoms or sakura buds normally start growing during the summer to autumn season, when the climate is especially warm, then go into dormancy during the winter. The severe, cold climate in the middle of the winter season is what wakes the flower bud up from its inactivity and pushes it to blooming stage.

Generally, Japan experienced average temperatures in December of 2018. However, West and East Japan had a few days when temperatures were warmer for the season, which could have resulted in the delay in dormancy breaking. By the end of the year, the temperature dropped. On January 12, even Tokyo experienced a snowfall. Until further notice, the intermittent cold climate in Japan continues, which may help speed up the process of dormancy breaking for the cherry blossoms.

Despite having a normal schedule for the average blooming season, this year’s schedule is a bit delayed compared to last year’s schedule.

Nationwide cherry blossom forecast (as announced on January 16)

In 2018, the cherry blossoms bloomed a week earlier than in 2017. Its schedule was also considered early when compared to the average blooming season of Japan. Compared to last year, most of the country is expected to experience a later blooming season.

Although February and March are known to bring lower temperatures in West and East Japan, this year’s winter months, despite being warmer than average, are expected, nonetheless, to assist in the growth of the
sakura flower buds. The climate is also expected to be warmer from mid-March onwards, resulting in an earlier to normal blooming season.


On the other hand, February and March in Northern Japan are projected to be colder or at least average due to the frequent low-pressure air and cold winds, creating a good environment for the growth of
sakura flower buds. By the time April comes, the temperature will become higher. As such, it is expected that the blooming season will be the same as the average.


Hokkaido’s blooming season

Most places in Hokkaido are expected to experience the cherry blossom season in the normal schedule. The blooming season will begin in the Oshima Peninsula on April 27 and will continue until its peak or full bloom during the first half of the Golden Week. You can enjoy viewing the cherry blossoms at the
Goryokaku Fort Park (Hakodate).

In Sapporo, the blooming season will start by the end of April and will continue until its peak at the end of the Golden Week. During mid-May, it is expected that the northern and eastern areas of Hokkaido will follow.


Tohoku’s blooming season

sakura flowers in Tohoku is expected to bloom during its normal schedule. When compared to last year, the blooming season this year is expected to stay the same or arrive later. The cherry blossoms in Southern Miyagi and Fukushima Prefecture’s Hamadori and Nakadori will start to bloom during early April. On the other hand, Southern Tohoku’s earliest peak season will happen before or after April 10.

You can enjoy the
hanami season at more places in Northern Tohoku if you wait until late April. The cherry blossoms found in Hirosaki Park (Aomori) will begin to bloom by April 20, peaking right before the Golden Week.


Kanto’s blooming season

There is a possibility that the cherry blossoms will bloom a little earlier or keep to its normal schedule in the Kanto region. When compared to the earlier bloom in 2018, the flowers might bloom during the same time or later this year.

If you’re visiting Japan a few days earlier, the
Yasukuni Shrine (Tokyo) is expected to have the earliest blooming season on March 18. The rest of Tokyo will start its cherry blossom season in late March, and Southern and Northern Kanto are likely to follow at the end of March.

The peak bloom of the flowers in Southern Kanto is projected to be at the end of March.  On the other hand, Northern Kanto might experience it during early April.



Chubu’s blooming season

In the Chubu, Tokai, and Pacific Ocean side, the blooming season is estimated to be normal or a little earlier this year. On the other hand, the Hokuriku region is forecasted to experience it normally at the end of March. Compared to last year, both the Tokai and Hokuriku region will have the
sakura season on the same or slightly later schedule.

Kofu and Gifu City will be starting their
sakura season on March 21, paving the way for the sides of Pacific Ocean, Japan Sea, and their surrounding mountainous areas to experience it by early April. The cherry blossoms in peak bloom can be enjoyed in the Tokai region by the end of March. In the western Hokuriku region, the hanami coincides with the opening ceremonies of schools.


Kinki’s blooming season

In Kinki, the blooming season usually happens around late March and is expected to arrive on schedule or a little later this year. The cherry blossoms in  
Osaka Castle Park is forecasted to bloom on March 23, while Kyoto will experience its blooming season during the first few days of April. The climate during April will generally be warmer, and most places in this area will have clear weather. By then, you’ll be able to enjoy the sakura flowers in full bloom.


Chugoku/Shikoku’s blooming season

The Chugoku and Shikoku area will experience the blooming season during late March. On the other hand, the blooming season in the
Kochi Park will begin on March 19, while the elevated areas in the Chugoku mountainside are expected to experience it during the first few days of April. The peak blooms will happen during late March and early April in the Shikoku area and Chugoku region respectively.


Kyushu’s blooming season

Kyushu will welcome cherry blossom season during late March, which is later or around the same time as last year’s record-breaking early bloom. On the other hand, the
Maizuru Park in Fukuoka will start its cherry blossom season on March 20, with Saga Prefecture, Kumamoto Prefecture, and Northern Kyushu following suit.

This announcement is only an estimate according to the data gathered as of the moment.
Weathernews Inc. will update its cherry blossom forecast from time to time, so it is best to keep updated with the latest forecast.

Main photo courtesy of iStock.

Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Tokyo Walker™ (31 January 2019)


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