Fine-tuned forecasts for this year’s cherry blossom season.

There’s no Japanese meteorological question that more people want an answer to than “When will the cherry blossoms bloom?” But as with any weather-related query, conditions can be hard to predict, especially when people are eager to start planning their sakura-related picnics, parties, and travel as soon as possible.

So even though we get our first cherry blossom predictions in January, they get fine-tuned as the arrival of the springtime flowers draws nearer, and Japan’s Weather News has now released the newest update to this year’s sakura forecast.

With a warmer-than-usual winter and no major cold snaps forecast near the start of spring, the cherry blossom buds are predicted to come out of dormancy a little earlier than usual in many parts of Japan. Tokyo will still be the first place to see the Somei Yoshino variety of cherry blossom (Japan’s most common and iconic sakura), with the start of blooming in the capital now predicted for March 18, followed by the opening of blossoms in Fukuoka on March 19 and in Yokohama and Nagasaki both on March 20.

The complete list of cities/dates in the above map consists of:
Akita: April 8
Aomori: April 10
Fukuoka: March 19 (2 days earlier than previous prediction)
Hiroshima: March 21 (2 days earlier than previous prediction)
Kagoshima: March 26
Kanazawa: March 26 (2 days earlier than previous prediction)
Kochi: March 21 (1 day earlier than previous prediction)
Kushiro: May 5
Nagano: April 1 (2 days earlier than previous prediction)
Nagoya: March 21 (2 days earlier than previous prediction)
Niigata: March 29 (2 days earlier than previous prediction)
Osaka: March 22 (3 days earlier than previous prediction)
Sapporo: April 18
Sendai: March 30 (1 day earlier than previous prediction)
Tokyo: March 18 (2 days earlier than previous prediction)

In addition, Weather News has released forecasts for some of the most popular specific cherry blossom-viewing sites, such as parks, gardens, and castles, around the country, with the cherry blossoms expected to begin blooming in Tokyo’s Ueno Park on March 19.

Ueno Park (Tokyo): March 19
Maizuru Park (Fukuoka City): March 19
Kumamoto Castle (Kumamoto City): March 20
Tsuruma Park (Nagoya, Aichi): March 21
Kochi Park (Kochi City): March 21
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (Hiroshima City): March 23
Arashiyama (Kyoto City): March 25
Sunpu Castle Park (Shizuoka City): March 25
Takato Castle Park (Ina, Nagano): March 28
Shiroishikawa Riverbank (Ogawara, Miyagi): March 30
Hirosaki Park (Hirosaki, Aomori): April 11
Goryokaku (Hakodate, Hokkaido): April 17

Also receiving updates for the start of sakura blooming are the zoomed-in regional forecasts, with the “sakura front” coming up from the southwest and making its way to the northeast of Japan over roughly a one-month period.

▼ Kyushu forecast: 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 Chugoku: 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)

Kansai: Hikone (彦根), Kyoto (京都), Osaka (大阪), Kobe (神戸), Nara (奈良), and Wakayama (和歌山)

Tokai: Shizuoka (静岡), Nagoya (名古屋), Gifu (岐阜), and Tsu (津)

Hokuriku: Niigata (新潟), Toyama (富山), Kanazawa (金沢), and Fukui (福井)

Kanto and Koshin: 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)

Tohoku: Aomori (青森), Akita (秋田), Morioka (盛岡), Sendai (仙台), Yamagata (山形), and Fukushima (福島)

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)

As always, it’ll still take a few days once the sakura start blossoming for them to reach full bloom, after which you’ve got roughly a week or so before the petals mostly scatter and are replaced by fresh green leaves on the branches. Still, this forecast should give you a good idea of when and where you’ll be able to see the cherry blossoms.

Source: Weather News
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Weather News
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s equally excited about the return of the sakura themselves and the return of sakura taiyaki.