Japan's exquisite cherry blossoms — known as sakura — are as beautiful as they are ephemeral — meaning that anyone taking a trip to see them must plan ahead to catch them in all their glory.
Luckily the Japan Meteorological Corporation (JMC) releases cherry blossom forecasts throughout the late winter and early spring, updating their predictions for when these blooms can be spotted, and making it easier for locals and travelers to anticipate when they can take part in the custom of hanami, or flower viewing.
The timing of the blossoms’ appearance depends on the weather leading up to spring, as the flowering of cherry blossoms is impacted by the temperatures from the autumn of the previous year. The dates also vary greatly depending on where in the country you are, with blooms appearing in mid-March in southern spots like Fukuoka and lasting until the end of April in northern regions like Hokkaido.
The JMC has just released its fifth updated forecast for 2023, in which it estimates the initial flowering and full bloom dates for trees in roughly 1000 viewing locations. This year, JMC predicts that cherry blossoms will start to flower in Tokyo on March 18 and reach full bloom on March 25. In Fukuoka, blooms are expected to start on March 21 and reach their peak on March 31.
In central Honshū, in the cities of Kyoto and Osaka, the blooms are expected to start on March 23 and 25 respectively, and peak on April 2.
Further north in Sendai, the booms aren’t expected to start until April 3, reaching their peak on April 8. In Sapporo, on the northern island of Hokkaido, the blooms will come the latest — starting on April 28 and peaking on May 1.
Admiring the sakura is a beloved Japanese custom, and as the blooms only last a week or two, cherry blossom forecasts help locals and visitors make the most of the incredible spectacle. Any travelers who want to plan a trip to see the blossoms can keep up with the JMC’s latest predictions here.