Japan cherry blossom season starting early, first flowers expected in mid- to late-March 2024

Sakura, sakura, yayoi no sora wa.

Fiona Tan | February 21, 2024, 08:02 PM



If you're thinking of going to Japan and doing some hanami (Japanese for viewing cherry blossoms), take note that the 2024 sakura, or cherry blossom, season is expected to start early.

Season expected to start mid-late March 2024

Japanese weather information company Weathernews Inc. reported on Feb 15, 2024 that Tokyo's cherry blossom trees will flower first, before the rest of the country.

Tokyo's cherry blossom trees are expected to flower on Mar. 18. This will be followed by Fukuoka on Mar. 19, Nagasaki and Yokohama on Mar. 20, Nagoya on Mar. 21 and Osaka on Mar. 22.

Mainichi Shinbun reported on Feb. 20 that cherry blossom trees in Tokyo flowered on Mar. 14, 2023, and were the first in the country to flower that year.

Image screenshot from Weathernews Inc. website.

Other reports

Japanese weather forecaster Weather Map also reported on Feb 15 that Tokyo's cherry blossom trees will be the first in the country to flower, which they expect to take place on Mar. 17.

Image screenshot from Weather Map website.

Japan Weather Association, on the other hand, reported on Feb. 21 that cherry blossom trees in Fukuoka and Kochi will be the first in the country to flower on Mar. 19.

They reported that cherry blossom trees in Tokyo would flower on the next day on Mar. 20.

Image screenshot from Tenki website.

2024 season expected to start earlier

While there are slight variations on which city's cherry blossom trees will flower first, and the exact flowering dates, all the reports sport one similarity — that the cherry blossom season will start earlier than normal across the country in 2024.

According to Japan Weather Association, cherry blossom buds grow faster and bloom earlier when temperatures are higher.

Japan has been experiencing warmer than usual temperatures, particularly in February 2024, Mainichi Shinbun and The Japan Times reported.

The weather typically becomes warmer as Japan comes out of winter and approaches spring.

However, Japan is warming up faster than previous years and thus, accelerating the arrival of the cherry blossom season across the country.

NHK reported on Feb. 20 that some areas in Japan, such as central Tokyo, reached 23.7 degrees, a temperature that is typically experienced in late April to mid-June.

Sakura season starting early in recent years

2024 will not be the first, nor will it be the last time that Japan's cherry blossom trees start blooming earlier than normal due to rising temperatures around the world.

Besides 2023, cherry blossom trees in Tokyo began blooming on Mar. 14 in 2020 and 2021, The Japan Times reported.

All of these dates were the earliest blooming dates recorded since Japan's began keeping records in 1953.

Rising temperatures are also making the task of cherry blossom forecasting more complicated.

About Japan's cherry blossoms

Cherry blossom trees start to flower (kaika) before reaching full bloom (mankai) five to six days later.

A cherry blossom tree is considered to be in the blooming or flowering stage when five to six of its blossoms flower, marking the start of the cherry blossom season.

The full bloom, on the other hand, is reached when at least 80 per cent of the cherry blossom tree's flowers have bloomed.

Cherry blossoms are said to be in "peak bloom" in the days before and after reaching full bloom, which will last around a week.

In total, Japan's cherry blossom season will last for around two weeks.

There are close to 300 types of cherry blossom trees in Japan.

Somei Yoshino, or Prunus × yedoensis, is the most common type of cherry blossom tree in Japan.

Its blossoms have five petals that are faint pink, almost white in colour.

Sakura, sakura

Top image from Canva