Newly updated forecast maps show shy sakura are going to keep us waiting a little longer.

“When do the sakura bloom?” is both an easy and a difficult question to answer. Cherry blossoms are Japan’s most iconic symbol of spring, and generally bloom in either late March or early April. The sakura are rather fickle flowers, though, and the exact timing of when the blossoms will open is dependent on the specific weather patterns of that year.

At the same time, knowing when the sakura will bloom is very important to flower fans, since they only stay in bloom for a short time. Because of that, sakura forecasting is a multi-staged process, with updates to help those planning trips, picnics, or other excursions to see them. Last month we got our first look at experts’ predictions for sakura season 2024, but now it’s looking like we’re going to have to wait a little longer than we’d expected before we can see the cherry blossoms.

Previously, Japan’s Weather News had predicted that this year the Somei Yoshino, the most popular and widespread breed of Japanese cherry tree, would first bloom in Fukuoka, on March 16. According to the updated forecast, though, the Somei Yoshino won’t start to bloom until March 20, and when they do, it’ll be in Tokyo, the first city to see the opening of the blossoms this year.

The updated forecast, shown in the map above, lists sakura-starting-to-blossom dates as:

Akita: April 8
Aomori: April 10
Fukuoka: March 21 (5 days later than first prediction)
Hiroshima: March 23 (3 days later than first prediction)
Kagoshima: March 26 (1 day later than first prediction)
Kanazawa: March 28 (1 day later than first prediction)
Kochi: March 22 (3 days later than first prediction)
Nagano: April 3 (2 days later than first prediction)
Nagoya: March 23 (4 days later than first prediction)
Niigata: March 31
Osaka: March 25 (3 days later than first prediction)
Sapporo: April 18
Sendai: March 31 (1 day earlier than first prediction)
Tokyo: March 20 (3 days later than first prediction)

Also, while not shown on the above map, the updated forecast calls for sakura starting to blossom in Kyoto on March 25 and Yokohama on March 22 (three and four days later than initially forecast, respectively).

So why the delay? Japan had warmer-than-average temperatures for much of January, Weather News says, but experienced a cold snap at the end of the month. After losing their leaves in the fall, sakura trees go dormant with bare branches through the winter. When the weather starts to get warmer, the trees “wake up,” so to speak, and start growing their flower buds, which then open once they’ve matured and the winter chill has largely dissipated.

▼ There is, naturally, an anthropomorphized infographic for the phenomenon, with a corresponding temperature graph at the bottom.

Much like how we humans often come to the conclusion that going back to bed sounds like a great idea when it’s too chilly in the morning, the end-of-January cold snap has sakura tress less likely to wake up and start growing flower buds than it looked like they would be earlier in the month, hence the pushed back forecast.

Released along with the new forecast are updated regional maps for when the sakura will begin to bloom.

Kyushu’s Fukuoka (福岡), Saga, (佐賀), Oita (大分), Nagasaki (長崎), Miyazaki (宮崎), Kumamoto (熊本), and Kagoshima (鹿児島)

Shikoku and the Chugoku region’s Okayama (岡山), Hiroshima (広島), Matsue (松江), Tottori (鳥取), Shimonoseki (下関), Takamatsu (高松), Tokushima (徳島), Matsuyama (松山), and Kochi (高知)

▼ The Kansai region’s Hikone (彦根), Kyoto (京都), Osaka (大阪), Kobe (神戸), Nara (奈良), and Wakayama (和歌山)

▼ The Tokai region’s Shizuoka (静岡), Nagoya (名古屋), Gifu (岐阜), and Tsu (津)

▼ The Hokuriku region’s Niigata (新潟), Toyama (富山), Kanazawa (金沢), and Fukui (福井)

▼ The Kanto and Koshin regions’ Mito (水戸), Utsunomiya (宇都宮), Maebashi (前橋), Kumagaya (熊谷), Tokyo (東京), Choshi (銚子), Yokohama (横浜), Nagano (長野), and Kofu (甲府)

▼ The Tohoku region’s Aomori (青森), Akita (秋田), Morioka (盛岡), Sendai (仙台), Yamagata (山形), and Fukushima (福島)

▼ And finally, Hokkaido’s Sapporo (札幌), Wakkanai (稚内), Asahikawa (旭川), Abashiri (網走), Kushiro (釧路), Obihiro (帯広), Muroran (室蘭), and Hakodate (函館)

Overall, most cities will see the sakura arrive a few days later than they did last year, according to the update, but in the meantime at least sakura sweets season will be kicking off very soon.

Source: Weather News
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Weather News
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