The popular Somei Yoshino (Yoshino Cherry) trees are expected to arrive as early as mid-March, starting in the Kochi Prefecture on March 18 before reaching full bloom in Kochi by March 25.
Fukuoka is expected to follow, with a forecasted flowering date of March 20 and a forecasted full bloom date of March 29.
Next, the cherry blossoms are expected to arrive in Nagoya and Tokyo by March 22, and then in Hiroshima by March 23. They should reach full bloom in Tokyo on March 29 and in Nagoya and Hiroshima on April 1.
In some areas, like Tokyo, current forecasts show flowering and full bloom starting four days earlier than usual. Weather experts say higher temperatures that started in October of 2018 are contributing to early blooms in some parts of the country.
Locations like Wakayama, Osaka, Kyoto, and Kagoshima are all also expected to see flowering start before the end of April, with full bloom approaching by the first week of April.
Prefectures further north, including Miyagi, Aomori, and Hokkaido, will experience later flowering dates that begin in April and May, with full bloom dates expected throughout mid-April and the beginning of May.
Cherry blossoms' flowering and full bloom are dependent on temperature patterns starting as early as autumn of the prior year, since the buds form in the summer and enter a dormancy period throughout the winter that helps them survive until temperatures start to rise again. For this reason, unusual increases in temperature can trigger an earlier flowering date.
The forecast currently tracks around 1,000 locations across Japan based on data from the blooming characteristics of the Somei Yoshino tree and is updated on a regular basis for those planning to visit Japan to witness the pink treasures in all their glory.
This year won't mark the first time the blossoms are expected to arrive earlier than usual — more than 350 cherry trees bloomed six months earlier than usual last October due to typhoons and irregular weather.
For those who happen to be visiting Japan in February, the town of Kawazu is known for its variety of cherry trees, the Kawazu-zakura, which bloom about a month earlier than all other cherry blossoms.