Japan's cherry blossom season set to arrive early in 2020

The sakura season is forecast to hit sooner than usual, with Tokyo coming into bloom in March instead of April

Japan, Kinki Region, Hyogo Prefecture, View of Kiyomizu-dera temple. (Photo by: JTB Photo/UIG via Getty Images)
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Japan’s annual cherry blossoms are one of the country’s biggest spectacles with travellers flocking to the country to watch the sakura in all their pink glory.

This year, the season is expected to start early – which could mean a change in itineraries for tourists hoping to catch the show.

According to Kansai University, an estimated 63 million people travel to and within the country to see the blossoms every year.

Typically, the season begins in April, but this year it’s set to start around a week earlier, said forecasters at Nihon Kisho. The Japanese weather forecasting company has predicted that cherry blossom season will begin on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

The flowers typically only bloom for a week, so visitors hoping to catch the spectacle may need to review their travel plans.

Forecasters say a warm early spring will lead to the cherry blossoms opening earlier in Tokyo, with the full bloom happening on or around Friday, March 27. That’s seven days earlier than average for the Japanese capital.

Hanami parties 

Cherry blossoms aren’t unique to the Asian nation, but perhaps no other country takes the season quite as seriously as the Japanese.

The blooming has been celebrated for centuries and plays an important part in Japanese culture. They’re so significant that the act of viewing them has its own word: “hanami”, and hanami parties are held across the country to coincide with the sakura blooms.

In Hokkaido, typically the last prefecture where the cherry blossoms bloom, forecasters predict this will happen this year in the last week of May.