I know you are looking for a quick easy answer to ''When is the best time to see cherry blossom in Japan?'
Well, it isn't quite that simple, and that is probably why you are are asking it.
Peak Cherry Blossom time:-
- End March - mid April visit Honshu
- Early January - early February visit Okinawa
- Late April - May visit Hokkaido
Consider the 4 points to choose the best time to see cherry blossom and a helpful map too
- The latitude - generally, the more north you go in Japan the later in the year the cherry trees bloom (So Hokkaido is last)
- The altitude - again the higher you are the later in the year the trees bloom (E.g. on Honshu think Matsumoto #10)
- The species of tree - there are many species of cherry tree and one species can be in flower while right next door another is just in bud. (Not far from Hakone #4 is Izu, there the Kawazu cherry trees even bloom in mid February!)
- The inclement weather - A warmer year will bring on the blooms earlier.
Beware the traps.
The map above gives you a rough starting point. Remember we are dealing with nature, but all things being equal, you should see the cherry blossoms between the dates indicated at the locations on the map. However, we often hear about two people in the 'same' place at the same time and one saw the magnificent cherry blossom and the other saw nothing. How come?
Let's imagine you are in Kyoto for example. The demographics and tree species are such that just a few kilometres apart some cherry trees are in full bloom yet others are just in bud. This means that you could see the stunningly beautiful cherry blossom, meantime also in Kyoto at the same time another person does not get that privilege! We suggest you are flexible about where you go, so you can see the best blooms.
How to best manage the Cherry Blossom season
At Journey to the East, we have developed a variety of cherry blossom tours that start at various times and their itineraries go to different places to take account of the four key factors mentioned above, basically 'playing' one factor against the other. In addition to this basic pre-planning, our small tour groups enable us to add a degree of flexibility into our tours so we can make choices on the day. In other words don't we suggest be prepared to change your plan on the day.