<Updated 3/23> Cherry Blossom Forecast 2020: What’s the Best Time for Cherry Blossom Viewing in Japan This Year?

Each new year in Japan spells the beginning of another spring cherry blossom season that covers the country in a delicate hue of pink. In full bloom for only about a week, cherry blossoms have a particular significance in Japan as a symbol of transience. As the cherry blossom season also coincides with the beginning of the new school and fiscal year, their short bloom also symbolizes the welcome end of winter and the start of new beginnings. Cherry blossoms bloom first in the warmer southern region of Japan and then gradually spread north, so flowers generally will begin to bloom in the north as the flowers start to fall in the south. This means that even if you were to miss the season in Tokyo, for example, you can likely still see trees in bloom further north in Sendai. This guide contains all you need to know about the 2020 cherry blossom forecast for Japan!

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2020 Cherry Blossom Forecast: An Earlier Bloom This Year?

Every year, a cherry blossom forecast for both the first bloom and the projected full bloom is released for each region of Japan. These dates are determined by both the data on the average temperatures between the fall and winter of the previous year and the progressive growth rate of Yoshino cherry trees. 

This article is based on the Japan Meteorological Agency’s projected dates for the first bloom and full bloom of cherry blossoms for 2020. However, please keep in mind that this is a forecast, so future weather conditions could impact the dates. 

2020 is projected to have an earlier-than-average first bloom all across Japan. Temperatures during this winter were significantly warmer than average, so spring is projected to arrive earlier than usual this year.

What Defines a "First Bloom" or "Full Bloom" in the First Place?

Let's quickly look at some of the different terms used in cherry blossom forecasting. The blossoming of 5-6 flowers is referred to as the "first bloom", while the blossoming of 30% of the flowers is called "one-third bloom". The cherry tree is considered to be in full bloom when 80% of the buds have bloomed.

Every region has certain sample trees, among which are trees located in Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo and Osaka Castle Park. Staff from the Meteorological Agency will visually confirm the state of these sample trees to provide the most up-to-date information on when the cherry blossom trees in the region reach first bloom, one-third bloom, half-bloom, full bloom, or are starting to fall.

You’ll only find 5-6 flowers in the period right after the first bloom, which isn't quite enough to enjoy hanami, the Japanese custom of flower viewing. The ideal time to see cherry blossoms is right around full bloom. Hopefully, you can use the following forecast information to find the best time to catch the cherry blossoms in their passing and poignant splendor.

Hokkaido/Tohoku Region (Hokkaido, Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata, and Fukushima Prefectures)

In Hokkaido, the cherry blossom season typically falls in late April to early May, while the Tohoku region typically enjoys cherry blossoms from mid to late April. This year, both areas are expected to see an earlier-than-average cherry blossom season. 

Sapporo (Hokkaido)
First Bloom: April 26 | Full Bloom: May 3
Popular Viewing Sites: Maruyama Park, Hokkaido Jingu Shrine, Moerenuma Park

Hakodate (Hokkaido)
First Bloom: April 22 | Full Bloom: April 27
Popular Viewing Sites: Goryokaku Park, Hakodate Park

Aomori (Aomori Prefecture)
First Bloom: April 14 | Full Bloom: April 20
Popular Viewing Sites: Gappo Park (Aomori), Hirosaki Park (Hirosaki), Komakaido Government Offices Street (Towada)

Morioka (Iwate Prefecture)
First Bloom: April 10 | Full Bloom: April 16
Popular Viewing Sites: Rock-Breaking Cherry Tree (Ishiwarizakura), Kitakami Tenshochi Park, Morioka Castle Ruins Park

Akita (Akita Prefecture)
First Bloom: April 8 | Full Bloom: April 13
Popular Viewing Sites: Chiaki Park (Chiaki), Noshiro Park (Noshiro)

Sendai (Miyagi Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 27 | Full Bloom: April 5
Popular Viewing Sites: Tsutsujigaoka Park, Nishi Park, Tenshukaku Nature Park

Yamagata (Yamagata Prefecture)
First Bloom: April 4 | Full Bloom: April 9
Popular Viewing Sites: Mamigasaki Sakura Line (Yamagata), Tsuruoka Park (Tsuruoka), Matsugasaki Park (Yonezawa), Tendo Park (Tendo)

Fukushima (Fukushima Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 27 | Full Bloom: April 2
Popular Viewing Sites: Mount Shinobu Park (Fukushima), Hanamiyama Park (Fukushima), Tsurugajo Park (Aizuwakamatsu)

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Kanto/Koshin Region (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi, Yamanashi, and Nagano Prefectures)

On an average year, the first bloom in the Kanto and Koshin regions starts between the last ten days of March and the first ten days of April. However, due to the warm winter, the first bloom is projected to begin significantly earlier than usual. Tokyo is projected to have the earliest first bloom. Although in 2019 the official first bloom was announced on March 26, in 2020 it's expected a week earlier on March 19.

Central Tokyo (Tokyo)
First Bloom: March 15 | Full Bloom: March 24
Popular Viewing Sites: Meguro River, Chidorigafuchi Park (near the Imperial Palace), Shinjuku Gyoen (Shinjuku), Nihonbashi Sakura Street (next to Tokyo Station), Rikugien Gardens (Komagome), Ueno Park (Ueno), Yoyogi Park (Harajuku), Sumida Park (near the Tokyo Sky Tree), Inokashira Park (Kichijoji)


Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 16 | Full Bloom: March 25
Popular Viewing Sites: Yokohama Park, Yamashita Park, Sakura-dori Street, Kishamichi Promenade,  Ookagawa River

Saitama (Saitama Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 16 | Full Bloom: March 25
Popular Viewing Sites: Omiya Park (Omiya), Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi (Kumagaya), Seiunji Temple (Chichibu), Nagatoro Cherry Blossoms (Nagatoro), Shinrin Park (Namekawa)


Chiba (Chiba Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 22 | Full Bloom: March 29
Popular Viewing Sites: Inohana Park, Izumi Nature Park


Mito (Ibaraki Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 20 | Full Bloom: March 29
Popular Viewing Sites: Kairakuen, Gokoku Shrine, Senba Lake


Utsunomiya (Tochigi Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 19 | Full Bloom: March 28
Popular Viewing Sites: Nikko Kaido Sakura Namiki (Utsunomiya), Hachimanyama Park (Utsunomiya), Senjuyama Park (Kanuma)


Maebashi (Gunma Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 18 | Full Bloom: March 27
Popular Viewing Sites: Maebashi Park (Maebashi), Akaginanmen Senbonzakura (Maebashi), Takasaki Kannonyama Park (Takasaki)


Kofu (Yamanashi Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 18 | Full Bloom: March 27
Popular Viewing Sites: Kanazakura Shrine (Kofu), Lake Kawaguchi (Kawaguchiko), Jiunji (Koshu)


Nagano (Nagano Prefecture)
First Bloom: April 1 | Full Bloom: April 6
Popular Viewing Sites: Shiroyama Park (Nagano), Matsumoto Castle (Matsumoto), Kozenji Temple (Komagane)

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Tokai/Hokuriku Region (Aichi, Gifu, Mie, Niigata, Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui, and Shizuoka Prefectures)

Nagoya, one of Japan's three major cities, is located in the Tokai region. This region is also anticipated to see an earlier first bloom than the average year, with Nagoya and Gifu the first to see cherry blossoms. While Nagoya's full-bloom announcement is typically made around the 26th of March on an average year, this year it is expected to be 5 days earlier, around March 21. Cities in the Hokuriku region like Kanazawa and Niigata typically experience their first bloom after the 1st of April, but this year they will be expecting their first bloom around 5 days earlier as well.

Nagoya (Aichi)
First Bloom: March 15 | Full Bloom: March 25
Popular Viewing Sites: Nagoya Castle (Nagoya), Tsuruma Park (Nagoya), Inuyama Castle (Inuyama)

Gifu (Gifu Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 15 | Full Bloom: March 25
Popular Viewing Sites: Shirakawa-Go (Shirakawa), Usuzumi Park (Motosu), Sunomata Ichiya Castle (Ogaki)

Tsu (Mie)
First Bloom: March 22 | Full Bloom: March 28
Popular Viewing Sites: Tsukairaku Park (Tsu), Nabari Central Park (Nabari), Ueno Castle (Iga)

Niigata (Niigata Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 28 | Full Bloom: April 3
Popular Viewing Sites: Takada Park (Takada), Matsugamine (Joetsu), Nakago no Sakura (Tsunan)

Toyama (Toyama Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 24 | Full Bloom: March 29
Popular Viewing Sites: Matsukawa Park, Yatsuo Senbonzakura

Kanazawa (Ishikawa)
First Bloom: March 24 | Full Bloom: March 31
Popular Viewing Sites: Kenroku-en, Kanazawa Castle Park, Mount Utatsu Park

Fukui (Fukui Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 23 | Full Bloom: March 29
Popular Sites: Asuwayama Park (Fukui), Kanegasaki Park (Tsuruga), Nishiyama Park (Sabae)

Shizuoka (Shizuoka Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 22 | Full Bloom: April 2
Popular Viewing Sites: Sunpu Castle Park (Shizuoka), Hamamatsu Castle Park (Hamamatsu), Urui River (Fujinomiya), Fuji Cemetery (Oyama)

 

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Kinki Region (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hyogo, Shiga, and Wakayama Prefectures)

The Kinki region is full of famous sightseeing cities, and its plentiful cherry blossom sites are also projected to have an earlier first bloom than an average year. Kyoto is expected to have the earliest first bloom, followed by Wakayama and Hyogo.

Osaka (Osaka Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 19 | Full Bloom: March 26
Popular Viewing Sites: Japan Mint (Osaka), Osaka Castle Park (Osaka), Expo Commemoration Park (Suita)

Hikone (Shiga Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 25 | Full Bloom: April 2
Popular Viewing Sites: Hikone Castle (Hikone), Kaizu Osaki (Takashima), Ishiyama-dera Temple (Otsu), Mii-dera Temple (Otsu)

Kyoto (Kyoto Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 20 | Full Bloom: March 28
Popular Viewing Sites: Daigo-ji Temple, Maruyama Park, Tetsugaku-no-Michi (Philosopher’s Walk), Arashiyama and Togetsukyo Bridge, To-ji Temple, Keage Incline, Ninna-ji, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Heian Jingu Shrine, Kyoto Gyoen National Garden

Kobe (Hyogo Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 22 | Full Bloom: March 29
Popular Viewing Sites: Himeji Castle (Himeji), Shukukawa Park (Nishinomiya), Hiokayama Park (Kakogawa)

Nara (Nara Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 21 | Full Bloom: March 28
Popular Viewing Sites: Nara Park, Kofukuji Hokuendo Temple, Nara Gokoku Jinja Shrine

Wakayama (Wakayama Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 20 | Full Bloom: March 27
Popular Viewing Sites: Wakayama Castle, Kimiidera Temple, Daikado River



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Chugoku/Shikoku Region (Hiroshima, Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, Yamaguchi, Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, and Kochi Prefectures)

The Chugoku region is forecasted to have an earlier-than-average bloom, while the Shikoku region is projected to have its first bloom either at the average yearly time or slightly earlier. Most areas are expecting a first bloom 5-6 days earlier than an average year. There is a good likelihood that, along with Tokyo, Kochi Prefecture will see the earliest first bloom in Japan.

Hiroshima (Hiroshima Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 20 | Full Bloom: March 31
Popular Viewing Sites: Peace Memorial Park (Hiroshima), Shofukujisan Park (Higashihiroshima), Tonomine Senbonzakura (Mihara)

Tottori (Tottori Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 23 | Full Bloom: April 1
Popular Viewing Sites: Kyusho Park (Tottori), Shikanojoseki Park (Tottori), Hoki Shiawase no Sato (Kurayoshi), Minatoyama Park (Yonago)

Matsue (Shimane)
First Bloom: March 23 | Full Bloom: April 1
Popular Viewing Sites: Matsue Jozan Park, Tamayu Riverbank

Okayama (Okayama Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 22 | Full Bloom: March 31
Popular Viewing Sites: Asahikawa Sakuramichi (Okayama), Okayama Korakuen (Okayama), Tsuyama Castle (Tsuyama)

Yamaguchi (Yamaguchi Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 22 | Full Bloom: April 2
Popular Viewing Sites; Ruriko-ji Five Story Pagoda (Yamaguchi), Hinoyama Park (Shimonoseki), Cherry Blossoms at Kintai Bridge (Iwakuni)

Tokushima (Tokushima Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 24 | Full Bloom: April 3
Popular Viewing Sites: Tokushima Central Park (Tokushima), Ikina Cherry Blossoms (Katsuura), Yuuka no Sato (Kamiyama)

Takamatsu (Kagawa)
First Bloom: March 21 | Full Bloom: March 30
Popular Viewing Sites: Ritsurin Garden (Takamatsu), Shiudeyama (Mitoyo), Asahiyama Forest Park (Mitoyo)

Matsuyama (Ehime)
First Bloom: March 18 | Full Bloom: March 31
Popular Viewing Sites: Matsuyama Castle (Matsuyama), Dogo Park (Matsuyama), Sekizenyama Sanzenbon-zakura (Kamijima)

Kochi (Kochi Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 19 | Full Bloom: March 27
Popular Viewing Sites: Kochi Castle/Kochi Park (Kochi), Godaisan Park (Kochi), Kagamino Park (Kami)



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Kyushu Region (Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima Prefectures)

The first bloom in the Kyushu region is also expected to fall at around the same time or slightly earlier than the average. This southern region of Japan has a relatively warmer climate compared to the rest of the mainland, so the first bloom tends to arrive earlier. This region is also known to have a slightly longer period between the first bloom and full bloom than other areas.

Fukuoka (Fukuoka Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 16 | Full Bloom: March 26
Popular Viewing Sites: Maizuru Park (Fukuoka), Shiranoe Botanical Garden (Kitakyushu), Katsuyama Park (Kokurakita)

Saga (Saga Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 19 | Full Bloom: March 29
Popular Viewing Sites: Ogi Park (Ogi), Hoshu-ji Temple (Kanzaki), Uranosaki Station (Imari), Nandoryo (Ureshino)

Nagasaki (Nagasaki Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 21 | Full Bloom: March 31
Popular Viewing Sites: Tateyama Park (Nagasaki), Kazagashira Park (Nagasaki), Omura Park (Omura)

Kumamoto (Kumamoto Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 20 | Full Bloom: March 29
Popular Viewing Sites: Kumamoto Castle (Kumamoto), Isshingyo Sakura Tree (Minamiaso), Tachioka Nature Park (Uto)

Oita (Oita Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 21 | Full Bloom: March 31
Popular Viewing Sites: Fudoson Isshin-ji Temple (Oita), Mount Tsurumi (Beppu), Osada Park (Nakatsu)

Miyazaki (Miyazaki Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 21 | Full Bloom: April 3
Popular Viewing Sites: Darumizu Park (Miyazaki), Mochio Park (Miyanokojo), Hanatate Park (Nichinan)

Kagoshima (Kagoshima Prefecture)
First Bloom: March 29 | Full Bloom: April 7
Popular Viewing Sites: Sengan-en (Kagoshima), Takaoka Park (Aira), Kirishima Jingu Shrine (Kirishima)



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Conclusion

Cherry blossoms begin to fall about a week after full bloom, so you have two weeks at most to enjoy their ephemeral beauty after they first bloom. The length of the cherry blossom viewing season depends on how long the warm weather continues.
The blooming of cherry blossoms marks the arrival of spring for people in Japan, and their brief, passing beauty serves as a reminder of that which is fleeting, precious, and beautiful every year.

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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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