Sakura speculation map and dates for each prefecture in Japan released by Japan Weather Association.

There’s no more iconic symbol of spring in Japan than the sakura, but the sad truth is that while the season may last three months, the cherry blossoms only stick around, from absolute start to complete finish, for roughly two weeks. So if you’re planning a trip to Japan to see the beautiful pink flowers, or you’re a local resident putting together a cherry blossom viewing party, you’ll want to know when the blossoms will open, and the Japan Weather Association has just released its forecast for sakura season 2018.

This year, the cherry blossoms are expected to start blooming in Tokyo on March 24, which is two days earlier than average, but three days later than in 2017. Meanwhile, in Kyoto the JWA expects the sakura to bloom on March 28, the same day as in most years. Once the sakura bloom, you’ve typically got a week (give or take a few days) until they’re in full bloom.

▼ The JWA’s sakura cherry blossom forecast map for 2018

Each year the “sakura front” (as the line of newly blooming cherry blossoms is called by meteorologists) starts in the warmer southwest and makes its way to the cooler northeast. Within Japan’s four main islands (Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu), the cherry blossoms will appear first in Kumamoto, Miyazaki, and Kochi Prefectures, all forecast for March 21. By April 30 the flowers are expected to begin blooming in Hakodate, the largest city in the southern section of the northern island of Hokkaido, with sakura in bloom across Hokkaido by May 15.

The specific dates forecast for earliest sakura sightings in each prefecture are:
● Kyushu
Fukuoka: March 24
Oita: March 24
Nagasaki: March 22
Saga: March 24
Kumamoto: March 21
Miyazaki: March 21
Kagoshima: March 22
● Shikoku
Kagawa: March 28
Tokushima: March 28
Ehime: March 26
Kochi: March 21

● Honshu
Hiroshima: March 27
Okayama: March 28
Shimane: April 1
Tottori: April 1
Yamaguchi: March 28
Osaka: March 28
Shiga: April 4
Kyoto: March 28
Hyogo: March 29
Nara: March 31
Wakayama: March 26
Aichi: March 26
Shizuoka: March 25
Gifu: March 26
Mie: March 30

Tokyo: March 24
Ibaraki: April 3
Tochigi: April 4
Gunma: April 1
Saitama: March 30
Chiba: March 30
Kanagawa: March 28
Yamanashi: March 29
Nagano: April 12
Niigata: April 9
Toyama: April 6
Ishikawa: April 4
Fukui: April 4
Miyagi: April 11
Aomori: April 24
Akita: April 17
Iwate: April 20
Yamagata: April 14
Fukushima: April 10
● Hokkaido: April 30

It’s worth bearing in mind that this is the JWA’s initial forecast, and a revision is coming later this month. Still, this should give you a rough outline of which days you’ll want to call into work pretending to be sick.

Source: Japan Weather Association (1, 2)
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Japan Weather Association, Pakutaso (1, 2)

Follow Casey on Twitter, where the coming of the sakura is just one more reason he’s ready for winter to be over.