Though the pastel pink and white blooms of cherry trees blossom throughout all parts of the world, they’re iconic to the Land of the Rising Sun, and undoubtedly appear the most beautiful in the settings of Japan and its cities, villages and towns.
Japan’s cherry blossom season stretches over a few months in spring. In the southern, subtropical islands of Okinawa, cherry blossoms begin to bloom as early as January, while on the northern island of Hokkaido flowering occurs closer to May.
In most of the major tourist cities that include Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, though, it’s a safer bet you’ll spot them in early April, and when the buds open and display their delicate petals, the whole place and its people come alive.
The cherry blossom — or sakura, as it’s called in Japan — hold a special meaning in Japanese culture.
The blossoms represent renewal and optimism and are symbolic of a new beginning. The blooming season marks the end of the chilling winter months and signifies the start of spring, which come alongside longer days and warmer weather.
In addition, the flowering season is so short with blossoms lasting on trees for only a week or so before the petals fall to the ground, and because of this, the flowers are known in Japan to represent the transient nature of life.
It’s a dream of many to view Japan’s beautiful cherry blossom season in person, and though your chances of making it over to Japan in time for sakura season this year may be slim, the good news is you can at least view them from afar.
Cherry blossoms in Japan have already begun to bloom in 2021; a little earlier than expected. Japan Guide reports the season has already begun in Hiroshima, and Tokyo and Fukuoka are soon to follow, with flowers expected to open in the coming days.
As for how you can see them, Japan’s weather channel has uploaded a bunch of 360-degree videos of the festival in all it’s pink and white glory. You can even choose which destinations you visit virtually, from inner-city parks to historic castles.
And, to get you in the spirit of things, here are some of our favourite-ever snaps of the stunning sakura season.
Borders may still be closed, but at some point soon (we hope), your dream trip to Japan will become a reality. Start planning your trip now with the 10 unmissable Tokyo experiences and the best places to stay in Tokyo.