Tokyo At Meguro Canal

You already missed it. Japan’s borders remain largely closed to outsiders, and Cherry Blossom is already in bloom. In fact, it’s been for nearly a month now.

With travel expected to pick up in the second half of 2021, and hopefully full on once again for 2022, many people are beginning the annual quest of planning trips to Japan for Cherry Blossom, and if you’re clever, there’s a clear trend emerging as to timing.

Cherry Blossom Season Shift

In Japan, Cherry Blossom “watch” is a thing. The news keeps locals up to date with early signs and indications of the season’s approach and entire website are dedicated to timely info. It’s almost like that scene in Anchorman with ‘Panda watch’ before Will Ferrell gets stuck in the bear cave.

Outside of Japan, eager travelers follow along with great interest, hoping to plan a trip to witness this unrivaled, colorful seasonal glory in person. Usually, it means catching the tail end, or the early days at best, but the pursuit is great fun, and a trip to Japan is always amazing anyway, right?

And here exists the hot tip.

Tokyo At Meguro Canal

Scientists are noticing a distinctive pattern with Cherry Blossom over the last decade, and it involves things getting earlier and earlier. Sure, many past seasons meant mid-April was the perfect time to arrive, but recent years have been earlier and earlier.

If you’re planning for 2022, not that anything is a sure bet, all indications suggest you’ll do best to arrive from mid-March. Like weather everywhere, the further north you go, the colder it typically is and later the season typically starts, so be sure to consider the city in your planning. A blossom in Hiroshima is all but sure to begin before blossom in Osaka.

The BBC reports Cherry Blossom experienced its earliest peak in Japan since 812AD this year. That’s… quite a long time. Osaka University reports that the more Northern city experienced peak bloom on March 26th, far ahead of usual. 1409 was the last time blossom peaked before March 27th in Osaka. And as teased, Sakura began in the city of Hiroshima on March 11th.

a graph of a number of flowers
Copyright Osaka University, BBC.

Weather is constantly evolving and climate change is having a massive impact on things from year to year. There’s sadly no crystal ball for planning the perfect Sakura trip to Japan, but with the research from Osaka University, it seems like Mid-march onward is a best bet, and if you can stay a couple weeks, you could chase the season from city to city.

There’s so much to love not just in Tokyo, but cities including Osaka, Kyoto, Hokkaido, Hiroshima and far too many to list. Japan is among the most moving destinations in the world, and always worth the trip. Particularly, if you can experience Sakura! Now that you’ve got the hot seasonal tip, hopefully you will.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. How about I don’t go & leave the carbon in the ground where it belongs.

    Flying around the world to witness Cheery Blossoms is way to decadent. Let’s appreciate where we are, create & spread joy there.

    1. I’d be willing to speculate that the trend of earlier peak blossom time could be related to climate change too. Look at the dramatic change in the date in the last 50 years

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