Every spring, Japan lights up in bright pink hues as cherry blossom trees come into full bloom all across the country. While the usual tourist crowds may not be there to enjoy the spectacle this year, the rosy-colored flowers will still make their annual debut. However, this time, they're arriving earlier than expected.
The Japan Meteorological Corporation recently updated the cherry blossom forecast for 2021, predicting that spring will arrive early in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and several other cities and regions in Japan.
In Tokyo, sakura (cherry blossom) season could appear as early as March 15, reaching peak bloom by March 23. That's 11 days ahead of its usual schedule. Meanwhile, Hiroshima is forecasted to see the pretty pink petals just one day after Tokyo, which is more than a week earlier than usual. Kyoto's flowers are predicted to bloom the following day, on March 17 (about 11 days earlier than usual), and Osaka is expected to see its cherry blossoms starting on March 20. The flowers will reach Sapporo last, with blooms expected to appear starting on May 2.
While there is a science and methodology that goes into predicting when the cherry blossoms will bloom, the actual timing of their appearance depends on the weather conditions leading up to spring.
Under the current travel restrictions, Americans will likely miss this year's cherry blossoms in Japan. Luckily, cherry blossom trees were planted in Washington, D.C. in 1912 as a gift from Japan. Ever since, the U.S. capital city has hosted its own Cherry Blossom Festival every year from late March to mid-April.
This year's celebrations will be a little different, as D.C. has chosen to make most of its festival events and activities available online instead of hosting in-person events. Visitors are still welcome to admire the trees in Washington, D.C., especially around the Tidal Basin, but are encouraged to wear face masks and follow social distancing guidelines.
Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but she's always on the lookout for her next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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