2018 Cherry Blossom Forecast for you to catch the Magnificent Spring

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The highly anticipated sakura 桜 or cherry blossom season is just around the corner! Well, not exactly soon, but close enough for the cherry blossom forecast to be announced.

Cherry blossoms are pretty, beautiful, and nice to look at. In the Japanese culture, this flower signifies the fragility of life and its short-lived beauty. There is even a word for sakura viewing which is called hanami 花見. ‘Hana’ means flower, and ‘mi’ means to view. Each year, thousands of foreign travellers make their way to the land of the rising sun, hoping to catch a glimpse of the breathtaking cherry blossoms.

The flower will bloom from the south to north. In this article, I will share with you the forecast blooming period, and explain a little about the types of cherry blossom you can find in Japan.

Sumida River.

 Cherry Blossom Forecast 2018

Latest 2018 hanami forecast by region.
Image credit: Japan Meteorological Centre

Sakura is expected to be in full bloom a little earlier than usual this year in certain areas of Japan;

  • Hokkaido (Sapporo): May 5
  • Sendai: April 12
  • Central Tokyo: March 26
  • Nagoya: March 30
  • Osaka: April 1
  • Fukuoka: March 30

Types of Cherry Blossoms

Most cherry blossoms in Japan come in white and light pink, but there are also uncommon varieties that come in yellow, dark pink and green colour. There are generally three types of common cherry blossom in Japan, and these are the ones that range from white to pink colour. They are Yoshino Cherry, Yamazakura Cherry, and Shidarezakura.

They can be easily found nationwide, especially at parks, castles, shrines, temples, and historical sites. Do note that some locations have many different varieties of cherry blossoms, so you might find all three of these common types in one place. Here are some common hanami spots that you can visit:

  • Ueno Park
  • Sumida Park (riverside)
  • Shinjuku Gyoen
  • Rikugien Garden
  • Meguro River
  • Chidorigafuchi
  • Nijo Castle
  • Philosopher’s Walk
  • Osaka Castle Park
  • Showa Kinen Koen

1. Yoshino Cherry

Thanks to mass cultivation of Yoshino Cherry Trees back in the 1800s, Yoshino cherry blossoms became very popular in Japan as a common cherry blossom. Somei Yoshino, a type of Yoshino cherry species, has the shortest blooming period. It is said that the cherry blossoms will fall one week after full bloom.

Flowers from this cherry tree are usually white or have a tinge of light pink. Due to the size of this tree and how mesmerizing it looks when it is in full bloom, you will often see people having a picnic underneath this tree.

Popular hanami spot:
Hirosaki Park (Aomori), Hasedera Temple (Kanagawa), Enkakuji Temple (Kanagawa), Kema Sakuranomiya Park (Osaka), Kitakami River (Iwate), Nagoya Castle

Hirosaki Park, Aomori.
Image by Spidysg on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Kema Sakuranomiya Park, Osaka.
Image by lasta29 on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

2. Yamazakura Cherry

This looks similar to Yoshino Cherry, but with a slight difference. The petals on Yamazakura cherry blossom are smaller and the flower is more pinkish. One fun fact about this variety of cherry tree is that it is the most common wild cherry tree in Japan.

Another way you can distinguish Yamazakura from Yoshio is that the leaves grow at the same time as cherry blossoms on the Yamazakura tree.

Popular hanami spot:
Mount Yoshinoyama (Nara), Osaka Castle, Kema Sakuranomiya Park (Osaka), Daigoji (Kyoto), Nanzenji (Kyoto), Hosshin Park (Fukuoka)

Osaka Castle.
Image by Aapo Haapanen on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Nanzenji, Kyoto.
Image by Kimon Berlin on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

3. Shidarezakura

This cherry tree is easily distinguishable because its branches droop like long hair, giving it a sad-looking demeanour. Inevitably, people call it the Weeping Cherry and the name remains to this day. There are two types of Shidarezakura flowers. One has five petals, and the other more than five petals. The latter is called Yaeshidarezakura.

As cherry blossoms are fragile and short-lived, it is important to find out when it will be in full bloom at the region that you are travelling to. Do take note that the longevity of full bloom is easily affected by temperature and rain. For instance, cherry blossoms can easily fall if it rains after the full bloom. On the other hand, If the cold weather returns, cherry blossoms could live a longer period.

Popular hanami spot:
Kakunodate samurai district (Akita), Maruyama Park (Kyoto), Osaka Mint Bureau Sakura Tunnel, Daigoji (Kyoto), Nagoya Castle, Sarue Onshi Park (Tokyo), Rikugien Garden (Tokyo)

Maruyama Park, Kyoto.
Image by Kimon Berlin on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Rokugien Gardens, Tokyo.
Image by Zengame on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Besides Hanami?

After spending some time walking and looking at beautiful cherry blossoms here and there, it is time to take a nice break!

One of the things that you can look forward to during spring in Japan is the food and snack made from cherry blossoms. The Japanese made use of the flavour and fragrance of these flowers to create all sorts of products, such as ice cream, beer, chocolate and many others. These are good souvenirs options to buy for yourselves or your loved ones. However, do take note that not everyone will like sakura-flavoured products, just like how rose-flavoured products are not to everyone’s liking.

Sakura cake and dango.
Image by Sana Lee on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Sakura mochi.
Image by inazakira on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Kirin Sakura Beer.
Image by DozoDomo on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

If you are travelling to Japan in spring, it’s your chance to enjoy hanami and their seasonal food! Trust me, you will be mesmerised by nature’s beauty.

A fun-loving group of editorial team on the mission to introduce Japanese culture and lifestyle to the masses.

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