Last Updated: Feb 9, 2024

Chasing the Cherry Blossoms

Following Peak Bloom in Japan

Donny Kimball
7 min readMay 25, 2021

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An iconic cherry blossom tree in on Kyoto’s Ninenzaka slope during spring
This story was originally published on donnykimball.com and has been syndicated here on Medium

As anyone who has planned (or is currently planning) a springtime trip to Japan likely already knows, the cherry blossoms tend to reach their zenith in Tokyo around the end of March. While still somewhat chilly, this annual flowering is cause for much celebration in Japan’s capital city. Alas, one of the tragic realities about the cherry blossoms is that they only stay on the branch for a few weeks at max. While this makes for a great metaphor about the ephemeral nature of life, it also means that travelers need to perfectly nail the timing (which, by the way, is often finicky and subject to the weather).

Now, this may come as a bit of a surprise to some visitors unfamiliar with their geography but Japan is actually quite a lengthy country. Given that the various prefectures all fall at different latitudes, this means that not all prefectures reach full bloom at the same time. In fact, there is more than the difference of a full calendar quarter between the first sightings of the cherry blossoms and when the last pedals finally falls. Case in point, my fellow Japan-loving travel companion and I recently hit up much of northern Japan at the end of April and things were only just then reaching their peak.

For reference, here’s the 2024 forecast as of Feb 8, 2024…

The cherry blossom forecast map for 2024

In the following sections, I’ll go through the entire length of the country from south to north and document when is the best time for the cherry blossoms in each region. While exact timings are always going to be subject to the whims of Mother Nature, this should give you a good overview as to what’s in bloom should you not be able to nail that coveted end-of-March flight to Japan. Be sure to bookmark this article for future reference when planning your next springtime outing!

Japan’s Earliest Bloomers

A bird sits on the branch of a cherry blossom tree during spring

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Donny Kimball

I'm a travel writer and freelance digital marketer who blogs about the sides of Japan that you can't find in the mainstream media. https://donnykimball.com/