Sakura Matsuri or cherry blossom festival is recognized all over Japan on different dates throughout the year. In Japan, spring is an occasion for walks in nature, social outings, and taking pictures next to cherry trees coated in beautiful pink blossoms.

Cherry blossom festivals are usually held from March to May each year, though other regions organize them during January, February or June, depending on their location. The dates vary from year to year.

Rain, wind, and temperatures have a quite strong effect on the process of the blossom season. These conditions may boost, delay, or even shorten it considerably.

Once the first buds open, the festivities officially begin and all eyes are on the pink florets as they take over the public parks and city sidewalks. During the peek of the bloom, the nation partakes in something called Hanami.

The centuries-old tradition of picnicking outside with friends and family, underneath the beautiful and colorful cheery trees is called Hanami in Japanese. It literally means “viewing flowers”, but it indicates cherry blossom viewing. It dates back to more than a thousand years ago when aristocrats enjoyed looking at beautiful cherry blossoms and wrote poems inspired by them.

In modern Japan, people make fun during the cherry blossom viewing. They tend to drink and eat, making the tradition more like a picnic under the trees. The most popular type of Japanese cherry tree can be found all over the country. These trees bloom at different times throughout Japan and the blooming period is usually very short.

These flowers only bloom for around a week before the popular “sakura snow” effect starts and they float sadly off the trees.

Cherry Blossom in Main Cities of Japan

In Tokyo, highlights of the blossom season include Ueno Park. This is one of Japan’s oldest and most popular public spaces with more than 1000 blooming cherry blossoms. Additionally, there is a Shinjuku Gyoen garden as well.
It all starts in the south on the subtropical islands of Okinawa. The first cherry blossoms start here in mid-January.
Kyoto is another great and popular destination for cherry blossom appreciation. Great spot for cheery trees includes Maruyama Park, the Kamo River and the Imperial Palace Park in this ancient capital of Japan.