By Jessica Poitevien
Mar 10, 2021
EVERY SPRING, JAPAN LIGHTS UP IN BRIGHT PINK hues as cherry blossom trees come into full bloom all across the country. While the usual tourist crowds may not be there to enjoy the spectacle this year, the rosy-colored flowers will still make their annual debut. However, this time, they’re arriving earlier than expected.
The Japan Meteorological Corporation recently updated the cherry blossom forecast for 2021, predicting that spring will arrive early in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and several other cities and regions in Japan.
In Tokyo, sakura season could appear as early as March 15, reaching peak bloom by March 23. That’s 11 days ahead of its usual schedule. Meanwhile, Hiroshima is forecasted to see the pretty pink petals just one day after Tokyo, which is more than a week earlier than usual. Kyoto’s flowers are predicted to bloom the following day, on March 17 (about 11 days earlier than usual), and Osaka is expected to see its cherry blossoms starting on March 20. The flowers will reach Sapporo last, with blooms expected to appear starting on May 2.
While there is a science and methodology that goes into predicting when the cherry blossoms will bloom, the actual timing of their appearance depends on the weather conditions leading up to spring.
Under the current travel restrictions, most foreigners will likely miss this year’s cherry blossoms in Japan. But the trees are also found in plenty of other Asian countries.
South Korea’s sakura season roughly lines up with that of Japan — as does Singapore’s since their grove is located in the climate-controlled Gardens By the Bay. The blooms show a bit earlier in Taiwan, in February. Chiang Mai in northern Thailand and Dalat in the central highlands of Vietnam are the epicenters of cherry blossom life in their respective countries, where the seasons begin in December or January thanks to the warmer climates.
Japan gifted a crop of cherry blossom trees to the United States in 1912, and they were planted in Washington, D.C. In lieu of the annual in-person festival, D.C. will make most of its events and activities available online March 20 through April 11. Visitors are still welcome to admire the trees in Washington, D.C., especially around the Tidal Basin, but are encouraged to wear face masks and follow social distancing guidelines.