National

Cherry blossoms in Japan are predicted to arrive earlier than usual again in 2019

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

Although some parts of Japan have yet to see this year’s first snowfall, experts say they already know when spring will come.

Residents of Kochi Prefecture in the Shikoku region will be the first to see cherry blossoms of the Somei-Yoshino tree this year, as early as March 18, according to a forecast by an Osaka-based meteorological company that predicts Japan’s iconic sakura may bloom earlier than usual.

Last year, spring arrived surprisingly early across the country, with buds starting to appear in Tokyo on March 17.

In this year’s forecast, released Thursday, Japan Meteorological Corp. announced the blossoming in Kochi is likely to be followed by early flowering in Fukuoka, where blossoms are due to emerge on March 20.

Soon after that, sakura flowers will begin to bloom in the cities of Tokyo and Nagoya on March 22, in Kyoto on March 25 and Osaka on March 27.

The firm has concluded that relatively warm temperatures throughout the country over the months since October have delayed the trees’ dormancy period, which allows sakura buds to survive the winter. But the delay to the start of the dormancy period is not expected to affect blooming, and the warm weather could even speed up the blooming process.

According to the forecast, cherry trees will be in full bloom in Kochi on March 25, and in Tokyo and Fukuoka on March 29.

The firm has also said the last weekend of March will offer the most enjoyable cherry blossom viewing in Tokyo, Kyushu and the Tokai region, and that the first weekend of April will be the best time for picnics under sakura trees in the Kinki region and other parts of Shikoku, as well as other places in the Kanto region.

In northern parts of Japan, spring arrives a little later. In Sendai and other parts of Miyagi Prefecture, cherry blossoms are expected to be seen on April 9. The first buds are due to appear in Aomori Prefecture on April 24, and on May 4 in Hokkaido.

The forecasts cover about 1,000 locations across the country. They are based on data derived from studying the blooming characteristics of the Somei-Yoshino tree — the most common type of sakura tree, known for its pale pink flowers.

The forecasts, together with updates on cherry blossoms blooming and famous spots for sakura viewing across the country, are available in Japanese, English and Chinese at the company’s website, at n-kishou.com/corp/news-contents/sakura/?lang=en