Going to Japan is an experience, whatever the season, but if it is also the time of the cherry blossoms, the experience is intensified. In Japan we speak of "hanami", something like "flower viewing", and it's a tradition for the Japanese and a great attraction for tourists.
If you also dream of visiting the Japan during this gorgeous season, here's a handy forecast for this year's blooming. In general, it usually takes place towards the end of March and the beginning of April. Every year, a forecast comes out with the approximate dates made by the Japan Meteorological Corporation.
"Hanami" is not just walking through the streets and parks watching the trees, but it is a tradition that includes various activities to enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms ("sakura"). Of course, these activities take place outdoors, under the cherry blossoms. And among the most popular are picnics and parties, where people eat and drink with friends and family while admiring the blossoms.
How to enjoy it in true Japanese style? Select a nice place with a good view, throw a picnic tablecloth/towel on the ground, relax and enjoy the company, the food and, above all, the view.
For the Japanese, the hanami season is a time to appreciate the natural cycle of life, as the bloom only lasts a few days, before all the blossoms fall from the tree. Hanami is associated with the transience of things and the bittersweet feeling of knowing that everything is temporary. It is therefore a time to enjoy the beauty of nature as it becomes a reflection of the ephemerality of life.
Tokyo - start: March 22 / full bloom: March 30
Sapporo - earliest: May 2 / full bloom: May 5
Sendai - start: April 8 / full bloom: April 13
Kanazawa - start: April 4 / full bloom: April 10
Nagoya - start date: March 25 / full bloom: April 4
Kyoto - start date: March 27 / full bloom: April 5
Osaka - start: March 28 / full bloom: April 5
Fukuoka - start: March 23 / full bloom: April 1
The life of the cherry blossom, as we mentioned, is quite short and usually lasts, at most, a couple of weeks. During the first week, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and splendor ("mankai" in Japanese). A week later, the blossoms will fall from the trees and hanami will be over.
So, pirate, you should keep this in mind: even if there is a forecast, it is a very weather-dependent phenomenon. So, if it starts to be warmer than expected, it will happen earlier, and on the other hand, if the weather is not good, it will happen later, or it may shorten the time when the trees are in bloom. So, take this as a reference, but keep in mind that it does not assure that you will be able to see it 100%.
Of course, around Japan, there are many places from which to appreciate this phenomenon. Here are some places in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hokkaido. Keep in mind that, in each location, they celebrate it in a particular way, so if you can go to more than one area to see it, don't hesitate!
Here are some of the most popular places to see the cherry blossoms:
Ueno Park in Tokyo
The Philosopher's Walk or Philosopher's Path, in Kyoto
The banks of the Meguro River, in Tokyo
Hirosaki Castle Park, in Aomori
Mount Yoshino, in Nara
Sumiyoshi Park, in Osaka
Which one will you choose, pirate?