Spring is always the best time to see flowers and trees blossom, but there are few sights that compare with seeing cherry blossom trees in full bloom.
In 2018, the cherry blossom trees in Japan surprised many spectators by blooming a full six months early – in October instead of April, as usual. Yoshino cherry trees typically develop buds in the summer but don’t actually bloom until spring, their extremely fragile flowers only showing themselves when the conditions are just right. But last fall, meteorologists theorize that the irregular weather, including unseasonably warm temperatures, storms, and damage caused by typhoons, caused the early bloom.
When will cherry blossoms bloom in 2019?
A premature cherry blossom bloom at the end of 2018 doesn’t mean cherry blossom season is over. Far from it. While it may be a little early to predict exactly when the next bloom will happen in the spring of 2019, flowering in Japan typically begins in March and April, usually starting in the southern part of the country and working north. Flowers generally don’t reach full bloom for about a week.
How to see the cherry blossom bloom in Japan
If you do want to check out the gorgeous trees in Japan, Kyoto and Tokyo are generally the most popular destinations for flower-watchers, usually in April. Visitors to Osaka, Hokkaido, and Fukuoka may be able to view them even earlier, while tourists to the northernmost part of the county, like Sapporo, can see them as late as early May. If you are worried about traveling to Japan and still missing out, you can also opt to take a cruise to various ports in the country, greatly increasing your chances of seeing the trees at various stages of bloom.
How to see the cherry blossom bloom in Washington, D.C.
Those of us in the U.S., however, won’t be left out of the dazzling cherry blossom display either. In Washington, D.C., where the famous cherry blossoms bloom around the Tidal Basin, visitors can enjoy the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The trees generally reach peak bloom during the last week of March to early April. In 2018, the trees peaked on April 5. The 2019 National Cherry Blossom Festival will be held between March 20 and April 14.
Where else can I see cherry blossoms in 2019?
Around the U.S., many flower watchers can also enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms in their own hometowns. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is home to 26 types of cherry blossom trees, and holds its own tribute to cherry blossoms and Japanese culture around their peak bloom. You'll also find impressive cherry blossom blooms in Seattle, Nashville, Newark, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seoul, South Korea.
The best cherry blossom festivals
Die-hard flower fanatics often opt for the Tokyo Cherry Blossom Festival or the Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival, but there is also a 10-day-long festival in Macon, Georgia, which also considers itself the “Cherry Blossom Capital of the World.” Even though the trees are not native to the area, it’s home to more than 350,000 Yoshino cherry blossom trees. The International Cherry Blossom Festival attracts thousands of people every year and is set for March 22 to March 31 in 2019.
Cherry blossom 2019 forecasts
Cherry blossom forecasts generally start coming out in December. You can check the Japan Meteorological Agency's website for the country's updates, likely starting with Okinawa, and cherryblossomwatch.com for the latest from Washington, D.C.