Tokyo’s cherry blossoms are predicted to begin flowering on March 21, three days earlier than average, with full bloom expected on March 29, according to the latest forecast from Japan Meteorological Corp. (JMC).

Temperatures in the capital are likely to be higher than average in February and March, contributing to the earlier-than-usual blossoming.

Cherry blossoms in Osaka are forecast to start blooming on March 28, with full bloom arriving on April 4. In Nagoya, these are expected to fall on March 24 and April 2, respectively.

Cherry blossom viewing, or hanami, is a major seasonal event in Japan, but the gatherings have been curtailed or canceled over the past few years due to COVID-19.

Last year, Tokyo's Shinjuku Gyoen, a popular location for hanami, required visitors to submit applications in advance, while the famed Nakameguro cherry blossom festival was canceled for the third year in a row.

But hanami festivities may be closer to business as usual this year, as Japan is easing pandemic guidelines ahead of a downgrade to COVID-19’s classification in May.

Forecasts of the flower’s full bloom in other cities are as follows:

  • Fukuoka: April 1
  • Kyoto: April 3
  • Hiroshima: April 4
  • Kagoshima: April 9
  • Nagano: April 11
  • Sapporo: May 2

Cherry blossom forecasts are usually for the Somei-Yoshino variety of the tree, with JMC monitoring roughly 1,000 viewing locations from Hokkaido to Kagoshima Prefecture. Estimates are based on comparisons of temperature and growth trends between current and previous years.

JMC released its latest cherry blossom forecast last Thursday.

Cherry blossom varieties found in Atami and Kawazu in Shizuoka Prefecture have already bloomed this month. These varieties are among the earliest to bloom in Japan alongside Taiwan cherries, also called bellflower cherries, which are found in Okinawa.