Cherry blossom viewing party/travel planning season is officially underway.

With Christmas, New Year’s, and Coming of Age Day all over and done with, Japan has finished up most of its big winter events. So even if the weather is still cold, people are starting to look ahead to spring, and in Japan spring means cherry blossoms.

But even though the sakura are the symbol of spring in Japan, the timing of the fickle flowers varies from year to year. That’s why the Japan Meteorological Corporation prepares predictions in the runup to cherry blossom season, and the organization has just released its first forecast for 2023’s sakura, with the blossoms expected to open on March 22 in Tokyo, Kochi, and Shimonoseki.

▼ The sakura forecast map for spring 2023

As shown by the map, the cherry blossoms bloom first in the southern parts of Japan, where the weather is warmer, and the “sakura front,” as the phenomenon is called spreads north afterwards. The forecast focuses on somei yoshino, Japan’s most prevalent and popular variety of sakura trees, and the by-city list for the start of blooming includes:

Akita: April 18
Aomori: April 22
Fukuoka: March 23
Hiroshima: March 26
Kanazawa: April 4
Kobe: March 30
Kochi: March 22
Kyoto: March 27
Nagano: April 9
Nagoya: March 25
Nara: March 29
Osaka: March 28
Sapporo: May 2
Sendai: April 8
Shimonoseki: March 22
Tokyo: March 22
Yokohama: March 24

Arguably more important than when the sakura will begin blossoming, though, is when they’ll reach full bloom, for which the current forecast is:

Akita: April 22
Aomori: April 26
Fukuoka: April 1
Hiroshima: April 4
Kanazawa: April 10
Kobe: April 7
Kochi: March 30
Kyoto: April 5
Nagano: April 15
Nagoya: April 4
Nara: April 5
Osaka: April 5
Sapporo: May 5
Sendai: April 13
Shimonoseki: April 1
Tokyo: March 30
Yokohama: April 2

Given the delicate nature of the cherry blossoms, the flowers are unlikely to stick to these exact dates. With spring 2023 being the first sakura season since Japan has fully reopened to international tourism, though, odds are hotels are going to fill up quickly, so it’s good to have a likely framework to use as you start to make your cherry blossom viewing plans.

Source: @Press, Japan Meteorological Corporation
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: @Press, Pakutaso (1, 2)
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where after 20 years of living in Japan he’s not even remotely tired of cherry blossoms.