The cherry blossom forecast has been released. You can expect the cherry blossoms to be in full bloom on March 30th in Tokyo, April 3rd in Kansai, and April 30th in the north of Japan. One of the most famous and accessible features of Japan is its cherry blossom season. Featured in travel shows, magazines and movies, cherry blossoms are often the introduction to Japan for travellers. The cherry blossom season, which spans across Japan from late February to early May, is a cornerstone of Japanese culture, and much of the country celebrates its arrival. Cherry blossom viewing is known as hanami, which directly translated means “flower viewing”. It almost always refers to cherry blossoms. Japan receives a forecast that tracks the blossoms as they move up Japan. The 2019 cherry blossom full bloom forecast for Kansai 3 April 2019. The cherry blossom forecast for the Tokyo is 31 March 2019. The blossoms only bloom for a few days, so make sure you plan your trip accordingly. If you miss out on the blossoms in March, the magnificent blossoms in Hirosaki Castle in northern Aomori prefecture are forecast to bloom on the 30 April. Here are some ways in which the people of Japan celebrate the cherry blossom season. Join up with the locals for hanami to get the full experience! 1. Festivals Far and away the most prolific way to celebrate the season, the first festivals of the year coincide with the cherry blossom season. Family groups and friends gather in the morning in parks where the massive trees are most prolific, and camp out for the day. Drinking beer and eating picnic food (often cherry blossom themed) is the modern way of enjoying the blossoms. Stands selling traditional festival food such as yakisoba and imagawayaki are set up throughout the park, including stands that sell cherry blossom flavoured goods such as soft serve ice cream and sake. Take pictures with your friends and family under the blossoms, or find the perfect branch of blossoms for that envy inspiring Instagram post. 2. Food Around mid-February pink takes over Japanese stores. Beer cans are splashed with soft pink, franchises such as McDonald’s and Starbucks adopt pink packaging as well as pink desserts, such as cherry blossom flavoured milkshakes and frappés. On the more traditional side, traditional Japanese desserts known as wagashi take on pretty pastel pinks, using both the leaves and the actual flowers of the cherry blossom trees. Yes, the blossoms are actually edible (though we wouldn’t recommend just picking them off the tree and eating them). The blossoms and leaves are pickled in salt, and blossoms from the previous year are used in wagashi. Girl’s Day and Children’s Day are holidays that happen over the cherry blossom season, and the traditional foods such as sakura mochi(glutinous rice, dyed pink and wrapped in a cherry blossom leaf) fit perfectly into the season. The cherry blossom has an intense flavour that’s reminiscent of cinnamon. It’s often combined with the flavour of strawberries, resulting in a fragrant and sweet flavour. It’s totally unique and well worth seeking out if you find yourself in Japan. 3. Art A large part of Japanese culture is devoted to the depiction of the seasons. Cherry blossom season in particular sparks feelings of mono no aware, a phrase in Japanese that describes the awareness that a particular moment in time will one day end, as the cherry blossoms which are so beautiful and vibrant only last a few days in a particular region. One week they’ll be in full bloom, the next they’re gone, and it is because they don’t last that they are so beautiful. As such, they’re the subject of many of Japan’s artists, from writers to potters to painters. Visiting a pottery shop in rural Japan is a special experience, and in cherry blossom season there’ll be tea bowls, pots and cups decorated with murals of the falling blossoms. It is both a wonderful gifting opportunity, as well as the chance to see Japanese artwork in action. 4. Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots As mentioned before, many locals go to parks to see the cherry blossoms. Most cities in Japan have parks with cherry blossom trees, and all the major cities have them in abundance. Here are some of the most popular places to view cherry blossoms in Japan: Cherry blossom viewing spots in Tokyo: Ueno Park Yoyogi Park Naka-Meguro (Meguro River) Shinjuku Gyoen Cherry blossom viewing spots in Osaka: Osaka Castle Expo 70 Commemorative Park Cherry blossom viewing spots in Aomori: Hirosaki Castle And that’s it! That should put you on your way to seeing some of the most inspiring flower-blooming scenes that Japan, and arguably the world (!!) has to offer!