Tokyo's cherry blossoms have now reached full bloom

This April 6-7 weekend is the best time to see cherry blossoms in peak bloom – shame about the drab weather, though

Lim Chee Wah
Written by
Lim Chee Wah
Editor-in-Chief, Time Out Tokyo
Shinjuku Gyoen cherry blossoms as on April 5 2024
Photo: Lim Chee WahShinjuku Gyoen cherry blossoms as on April 5 2024

There's been a bit of drama surrounding this year's cherry blossom season. According to forecast, the somei-yoshino flowers – the most prevalent variety of sakura in Tokyo – was expected to bloom around March 22, as per usual. Then, all of a sudden, Tokyo was hit by a cold snap and the iconic white flowers didn't bloom as expected. In fact, blooming didn't start until a week later.

It was particularly disheartening for tourists who planned their trip to Tokyo for the cherry blossoms. Based on the past few years, end-March was generally a safe time to visit Tokyo as the cherry blossoms were already blooming and nearing peak. But the erratic weather patterns that we've been experiencing lately had thrown a spanner in the works.

After days of disappointment and heightened anticipation, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) finally announced on March 29 that the 2024 cherry blossom season was officially underway after spotting at least five blooms on Tokyo's sakura sample tree in Yasukuni Shrine. This year's blooms began five days later than usual and 15 days later than last year.

Chidorigafuchi Moat cherry blossoms on April 4 2024
Photo: Lim Chee WahChidorigafuchi Moat cherry blossoms on April 4 2024

Nevertheless, since last weekend, the sakura in Tokyo are blooming along beautifully and as of Thursday April 4, we have entered peak bloom. According to JMA Tokyo which made the official declaration, full bloom (or 'mankai' in Japanese) is reached when 80 percent of the trees have flowered.

So now's the time to see the cherry blossoms at their fullest and most gorgeous. Given these flowers' fragile and fleeting nature, you can expect the petals to start falling from the trees after this weekend and soon the branches will be replete with bright green shoots.

It's a shame that the weather this weekend is forecast to be cloudy and gloomy. But that's something many guide books don't tell you: cherry blossom season in Tokyo is generally cloudy or rainy, with sporadic days of sunshine and clear blue skies.

Shinjuku Gyoen cherry blossoms on April 5 2024
Photo: Lim Chee WahShinjuku Gyoen cherry blossoms on April 5 2024

Still, get ready for peak cherry blossom fomo this weekend. To help you get the best out of this amazing time in Tokyo, we have all the cherry blossom guides you need right here.

For first-time visitors especially, here are the all-time best cherry blossom parks, gardens, streets and riversides in Tokyo. Been there, done that? Then check out these lesser known, and hence (relatively) less crowded, sakura attractions in Tokyo

There's more: many neighbourhoods and districts in the city are currently hosting cherry blossom festivals to celebrate the arrival of spring. If you want a unique sakura experience, the festivals at Chidorigafuchi Moat and Oyokogawa River offer boating and boat rides for you to take in the views from the water.

Tokyo Midtown Roppongi cherry blossoms as seen on April 4
Photo: Lim Chee WahTokyo Midtown Roppongi cherry blossoms as seen on April 4

While you're here, you must also check out at least one cherry blossom light-up in the city – sakura illuminations are a whole new vibe. Hurry though, as most of these special events end on Sunday.

So this is it, the 2024 cherry blossom season we've all been waiting for. Have a wonderful sakura weekend ahead.

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