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Japan: When and Where to View Cherry Blossoms in Key Cities in 2017

Japan_Tenryuji_Shrine_and_sakura_Kyoto_photo_by_Chris_Gladis

Cherry trees are starting to bloom at Tenryuji Shrine in Kyoto, Japan. Photo Credit: Chris Gladis.

Festivals + Holidays

UPDATED 13 March 2017! Cherry trees will bloom an a bit later than last year in Japan because temperatures this year they are closer to normal. Last year they were higher than normal.

Please consult the chart below for the latest predictions by the Japan Weather Association. 

The best times to view cherry blossoms start five to six days after they open. Their optimal viewing time is relatively short, lasting one week, give or take a day or two.

Cherry blossoms - called "sakura" in Japanese - are fragile, and they can be washed away by heavy rains or blown away by strong winds.

But their brevity and fragility add to their allure. Viewing cherry blossoms is called "haname" in Japanese, and it is a time-honoured pastime in the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Cherry blossoms are already well past their sell-by date in Okinawa, the southern-most major island in the Japanese archipelago, where they started to open in mid-January and continued to bloom through mid-February. 

The Cherry Blossom Front, however, has not yet reached the main island of Kiyushu.

Cherry blossoms are expected to open in Fukuoka on March 22 followed by Tokyo on March 24.

Their peak viewing dates are expected to be April 1 to April 7 in Fukuoka and March 31 to April 8 in Tokyo.

The Cherry Blossom Front will work its way northward over the following weeks.

The first cherry trees are expected to blossom in Sapporo, Japan's northernmost major city on the island of Hokkaido, onl 3 May 2017.

Best Times to View Cherry Blossoms in 2017

Weather conditions can vary. These are the estimated best times to view cherry blossoms in 2017 according to the Japan Weather Association. 

Changes in the weather, however, can affect the times that cherry trees blossom – and heavy rains or winds can also cut viewing times short. 

These predictions were published on March 3, 2017. I will update the list periodically as the season progresses.

Kagoshima – opening: March 30; best viewing: April 6 - April 14;

Nagasaki - opening: March 26; best viewing: April 2 to April 10;

Fukuoka - opening: March 22; best viewing: April 1 to April 7;

Matsuyama - opening: 24 March; best viewing: April 1 to April 9; 

Hiroshima – opening: March 28; best viewing: April 3 to April11;

Tokyo – opening: March 24; best viewing: March 31 to April 8; 

Nagoya – opening: March 26; best viewing: April 1 to April 8;

Yokohama – opening: March 24; best viewing: March 30 to April 7;

Kyoto – opening: March 28; best viewing: April 3 to April 11;

Osaka – opening: March 28; best viewing: April 3 to April 11;

Shikzuoka - opening: March 29; best viewing: April 2 to April 10;  

Kanazawa – opening: April 2; best viewing: April 6 to 14;

Fukushima – opening: April 8; best viewing: April 11 to 19;

Sendai – opening: April 10; best viewing: April 13 to 21;

Aormori - opening: 22 April; best viewing: April 28 to May 6;

Hakodate – opening: May 1; best viewing: May 4 to May 11;

Sapporo – opening: May 3; best viewing: May 6 to 13.

Updated 13 March 2017.

The Japan Meteorological Agency started predicting the opening and best viewing times for cherry blossoms in the 1950s.

Cherry blossoms are considered to be opening when at least five to six flowers have opened on a sample tree. The best viewing time is considered to be when at least 80% of the flowers on the tree are open.

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