Japan’s beautiful cherry blossoms are on their way, but not at the same time as usual, according to predicted dates and map.

Japan’s cherry blossoms are its most iconic symbol of spring, and if you’re planning a trip to the country, plenty of people will tell you that the most beautiful time to come is during sakura season. But while we get three months of spring, the sakura themselves are only in full bloom for about a week, so thankfully Japanese weather forecasting company Nihon Kisho has just released its initial cherry blossom forecast for 2020.

In the popular imagination, the peak sakura bloom occurs in April, and the mental association is so strong that a Google image search for “April” in Japanese (4月 ) turns up a virtual blizzard of pink petals.

But if you’re hoping to see the sakura in Tokyo this year, you’ll want to get here before April even starts. Nihon Kishu’s calculations are predicting a warm early spring, and the organization says that cherry blossoms will begin to open in Tokyo on March 19, seven days earlier than average for the capital, with full bloom happening the following week, on March 27.

▼ Nihon Kisho’s predictions for when cherry blossoms will begin to open for somei yoshino trees, Japan’s most prevalent sakura variety

As a matter of fact, Nihon Kisho expects sakura season to arrive three or four days earlier than usual in just about all of Japan, with predicated dates for blossom opening and full bloom in other prefectures being:

Kochi: March 19/March 27
Fukuoka: March 20/March 29
Aichi: March 21/March 30
Hiroshima: March 22/April 1
Kyoto: March 23/April 1
Wakayama: March 24/April 1
Osaka: March 25/April 1
Kagoshima: March 25/April 5
Ishikawa: April 1/April 7
Miyagi: April 7/April 12
Nagano: April 9/April 14
Aomori: April 23/April 27
Hokkaido: May 1/May 5

Since a big part of the fun of sakura season is having hanami (cherry blossom-viewing) parties in the park with friends, Nihon Kisho has also predicted the best hanami weekends for selected areas, with that designation going to the weekend of March 28/29 for Tokyo and Fukuoka and April 4/5 for Osaka. Also bear in mind that if you’re planning a cross-country trip to chase the “sakura front” (as the geographical line of blooming trees is called), you’ll want to start in Japan’s warm southwest, then make your way to the cooler northeast as the days go by.

Source: @Press, Nihon Kisho
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Google, @Press
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where after more than 15 years living in Japan, he still get excited for each and every sakura outing.