If you're planning on visiting Japan in Spring, you're probably looking forward to enjoying the beautiful and subtly fragrant blossoms of the cherry trees, or sakura, as they're called in Japanese.

Since so many people count on the sakura for their Spring activities, knowing the best times to view them has become somewhat of a science. In fact, every year, the Japan Meteorological Corporation publishes forecasts on when the sakura will begin to bloom and when they are likely to be in full bloom, with the weekend most closely coinciding with that date considered to be the ideal moment for hanami 花見 (literally, "flower viewing), the practice of picnicking beneath the cherry blossoms.

Let's take a look at this year's forecast, based on observations make of 1,000 Somei Yoshino Cherry Trees in key locations throughout the country:

© Japan Meteorological Corp. / © Socialwire Co., Ltd.

An Early Start to Sakura Season

As you can see in the "difference from last year" columns in the chart below, the sakura trees will begin to bloom considerably earlier than they did in 2018. This difference is particularly pronounced in Tokyo, for example, where the season is expected to begin almost a week earlier.

© Japan Meteorological Corp. / © Socialwire Co., Ltd.

Ideal Time To Enjoy Sakura

Although poets have long appreciated the sight of the earliest sakura petals barely peeping out from their buds, common opinion favors the gorgeous fully opened blossoms seen in postcards and images of Japan (such as the one we used in our title image). If you'd like to plan your visit around that ideal moment (whether or not you intend having a hanami) the following calendar will be of use:

© Japan Meteorological Corp. / © Socialwire Co., Ltd.

Here are a few dates to remember for major cities:

Best Sakura Viewing in Tokyo (and Fukuoka): March 29th

Best Sakura Viewing in Nagoya: April 1st

Best Sakura Viewing in Osaka: April 2nd

Best Sakura Viewing in Kyoto: April 3rd

Best Sakura Viewing in Sendai: April 14th

Sakura Navi app

If you'd like to keep up to date with the latest forecasts from the Japan Meteorological Corporation, you can download their app, Sakura Navi, which is available in English for iOS and Android.

Image of Japanese version:

© Japan Meteorological Corp. / © Socialwire Co., Ltd.

Note: The information above is based on the Japan Meteorological Corporation's first forecast released on January 10th and is subject to change in subsequently released forecasts.

By - Ben K.