Japan’s ‘Cherry Blossom’ season produces one of nature’s most beautiful displays and seeing it is high on many peoples’ bucket list. But it’s not quite as straightforward as you may think, as where you are in Japan will determine what you see and when you will see it.
The blossom season starts as early as January in the southern sub-tropical islands of Okinawa and runs through to mid-May in the north. But, in any one place the blossom can last as little as a couple of weeks – less if it’s windy. A week after the first blossom opens, mankai (full bloom) is reached and then the bloom peak is over a week after that. One week on again and the blossoms start to fall.
The best-guess estimate for viewing time in Tokyo this year, according to the Japan-Guide is April 2nd to April 10th with first bloom occurring on March 26th, according to the Japan Weather Association’s guide. In Kyoto first bloom will be a day later and in Sapporo on the northerly island of Hokaido, it will be 5th May.
However, you have options when it comes to blossom displays – even in Japan, the annual plum (ume) blossom season is becoming more popular as it tends to be less touristy and more local, but equally as beautiful. February or March are the key times for Tokyo and you may catch one of the local Ume Matsuri (plum festivals) while you’re there.
Here are some of the other best blossomy displays and festivals around the world:
Denmark – 200 cherry trees donated by the city of Hiroshima to celebrate Hans Christian Andersen blossom around Copenhagen’s statue of The Little Mermaid in April.
Washington – another gift from Japan, this time 3000 trees gifted by Tokyo in 1912 produces a wonderful display around the Tidal Basin. The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 20th to April 14th
San Francisco – The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival is the largest after Washington’s and runs from April 13th – 14th
Namaqualand, South Africa –not blossom, but a stunning display of flowers in this normally arid region. For a few weeks from early August, a kaleidoscope of bright pinks, yellows, oranges, reds, blues and purple dominate the landscape as the locally named Namaqualand Daisies burst forth.
Sydney – the ubiquitous jacaranda tree’s annual display can be seen all around the Australian city in October and November. Its subtle purple hue is somehow less showy than the brighter cherry and is beautiful because of it.
If you’d like to travel to Japan to partake in ‘Hanami’ - the centuries-old practice of picnicking under a blooming tree – take a look at Golden Japan, a 10-day tour taking in Tokyo, Hakone and Kyoto.
Or, for a Washington break during blossom season, head for the Tidal Basin. The five-star Renaissance Mayflower is just a 25 minute walk away or the Mandarin Oriental is even closer, at around 5-10 minutes’ walk away.
If you’re going to Sydney for the jacaranda display, you had might as well see the rest of the country too. Try an Australian Icons Tour – taking in Sydney, Cairns, Melbourne, Uluru and Alice Springs.
Give our experienced travel advisors a call on 0844-251-0151 and let us help you find your perfect spring city break.
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