Timing is everything when it comes to experiencing the enchanting cherry blossom season in Japan. These delicate sakura flowers have a fleeting lifespan, transforming from buds to petals in a matter of days. And falling from the trees no longer than a week after they bloom. So, if you’re keen on witnessing the full bloom of sakuras in Japan, you’ll need to plan your trip meticulously. But don’t stress, I’m here to help you nail down when is cherry blossom season in Japan 2024 and plan for your trip!
Last year we were lucky enough to experience full bloom in a few different locations during our 3 weeks trip through Japan. And although there was an element of luck, I attribute this opportunity to a smart planning strategy I crafted. As it was proven extremely successful, I’ll share the gist of it with you. If you want to know the best places to go during cherry blossom season in Japan, make sure to check this post. Now, let’s talk about the things you need to know to plan a perfect trip to Japan during cherry blossom season!
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When is cherry blossom season in Japan
Traditionally, cherry blossoms reach their peak between the last week of March and the first week of April, especially in major cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. However, sakura blooms tend to arrive earlier in the Ryukyu Islands and southern regions, typically between February and March. While northern locations like Hokkaido experience full bloom in early to mid-May.
Can cherry full bloom dates in Japan vary from year to year?
Yes bloom, dates can vary from year to year. Weather conditions play a pivotal role in this natural phenomenon, with factors like colder temperatures, strong winds, and rainfall influencing the precise full bloom dates. And this dynamic aspect of cherry blossom season adds an air of anticipation and makes each year’s bloom a unique experience. Following up with sakura bloom predictions is a big thing in Japan and I bet you will get into it if you’re planning a trip during cherry blossom season. Last year, I checked predictions every week it was a great way of connecting with the Japanese culture!
When is cherry blossom season in Japan 2024: main dates to consider
Now, let’s dive into the heart of the matter – the key dates for cherry blossom season in Japan 2024. The initial predictions were released a couple of weeks ago but may change depending to several factors. These are the most important full bloom dates to consider as of now:
- Tokyo full bloom in 2024: 29th of March
- Kyoto full bloom in 2024: 31st of March
- Osaka full bloom in 2024: 1st of April
- Kanazawa full bloom in 2024: 6th of April
Last year’s predictions were remarkably accurate, even months in advance. As soon as the full bloom dates were released, I made permanent hotel reservations and was lucky to find accommodations with excellent cost-benefit. Fortunately, full bloom dates didn’t change much since the first release, so I could witness the spectacle in many different cities in Japan.
When should I book my trip to Japan during cherry blossom season?
Planning is necessary if you want to experience sakura season in Japan. It’s quite common to the bloom for just a matter of days, which is such a pity. And exactly what happened to Eric in 2017. But if you want to ensure you’ll be in the right place and right time, here are my recommendations:
Reserve your flights well in advance, preferably several months prior to your intended travel dates. This ensures you have access to a wider range of options and competitive fares. We booked 11 months in advance and flew business with LOT from Stockholm, with a stop in Krakow!
The weeks of sakura bloom are the most sought-after in the whole year. So, hotels tend to get booked up pretty early on, especially the ones with best cost-benefit. So, you’ll want to be proactive when planning your trip to Japan during cherry blossom week and make reservations as soon as you book your tickets.
I suggest you pick an itinerary based on full bloom days for previous years. Don’t worry if you don’t know where to begin; I’ve got you covered with three fantastic itinerary suggestions for cherry blossom season in Japan. I suggest reserving your accommodations with free cancelation using Booking.com.
This provides you with the flexibility to adjust your plans as you gain more insight into the full bloom dates.
Once the yearly predictions become available, promptly revise your travel itinerary and secure permanent reservations. Act swiftly and decisively during this crucial phase. I know it can be stressful to rearrange plans last minute, but I can assure you that any minor inconvenience is a small price to pay for the incomparable experience of witnessing Japan’s cherry blossoms in full bloom!
When traveling to Japan during sakura season, I recommend buying the Japan Rail Pass. While it may be slightly more expensive than buying individual tickets, it offers unparalleled flexibility. Which is a huge plus. With the pass, you’ll be able to adjust your plans according to the latest bloom predictions, ensuring you’re in the right place at the right time!
Cherry blossom festivals in Japan 2024
Joining sakura festivals is a must while traveling in Japan during cherry blossom season. These celebrations offer a perfect insight to the traditions and culture around sakuras. We attended to the official sumo contest, which happens in Osaka during March. It was an incredible experience, and we were only few tourists in the arena. When I think back on this day, I can’t believe how lucky we were to have timed our trip so we could watch traditional sumo. A memory I’ll cherish forever!
Apart from sumo, here are some other interesting festivals to attend during cherry blossom season in Japan:
- Cherry Blossom Festivals (Hanami Matsuri): Throughout Japan, cities and towns host their own cherry blossom festivals, known as “Hanami Matsuri.” These lively gatherings feature food stalls, traditional performances, and illuminated night views of sakura trees in full bloom. One of the most famous is the Ueno Cherry Blossom Festival in Tokyo, where you can join locals for a memorable hanami picnic under the trees.
- Miyako Odori (Cherry Blossom Dance): If you’re in Kyoto during cherry blossom season, don’t miss the Miyako Odori, a traditional dance performance by geisha and maiko. We watched the performance at Kamishichiken Kabukai and it was simplyfantastic. There were real-life geishas watching the spectacle right beside us. It felt like a very genuine performance!
- Cherry Blossom Night Viewing: Some locations offer special nighttime viewing events (yozakura), where illuminated cherry blossoms create a magical ambiance. Maruyama Park in Kyoto was our absolute favorite. A perfect place to enjoy traditional Japanese meals under beautifully lit sakura trees and socialize with locals.
- Sakura Fireworks: A few cherry blossom festivals, such as the Tokyo Sumida River Fireworks Festival, combine fireworks with Hanami. These events are a dazzling display of colors and lights against the backdrop of cherry blossoms.
- Cherry Blossom Fantasy in Hiroshima: This enchanting event allows visitors to enjoy the delicate sakura blossoms while reflecting on Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park and Atomic Bomb Dome.
- Local Temple Festivals: Many temples in Japan hold special cherry blossom-related events, such as traditional tea ceremonies or concerts. These smaller, local gatherings offer a more intimate and authentic experience.
Should I avoid visiting Japan during the Golden Week?
One final tip: avoid visiting Japan during the Golden Week, which typically spans from April 29th to May 5th (sometimes extending to May 6th). This period coincides with some of the prime cherry blossom dates in the north of Japan and encompasses several public holidays. The result? Millions of travelers gathered, soaring accommodation prices, and crowded trains. To savor the serene beauty of cherry blossoms without the intense hustle and bustle, skip the Golden Week. Prioritize the last week of March and first of April!
I hope this travel guide was inspirational and useful to you. If so, check other blogs we published about Japan and book your trip using the links below.
:: 3 perfect cherry blossom season itineraries in Japan