Updated forecast for Hokkaido’s cherry blossoms
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has released an updated forecast for the cherry blossom season in Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido.
The revised forecast announced that there is a strong possibility of average or lower than average temperatures in the days ahead, meaning that the estimated flowering dates have been pushed back one to two days in many areas across the island.
Despite the forecasted average to low temperatures, the average and higher than average temperatures in the island’s various regions at the end of March mean that the cherry trees will still flower earlier than usual by between one and six days, depending on the region.
Cherry trees are now forecast to begin flowering in Hakodate on April 27, Sapporo on May 2, Asahikawa (central region) on May 6, Abashiri (north east region) on May 11, and Wakkanai (northern region) on May 15.
Hakodate’s most famous cherry blossom spot is the star shaped Goryokaku Park, the site of Japan’s first and largest western style fortress ruins. The park has about 1600 different types of cherry trees with the Somei Yoshino (Yoshino Cherry) the main variety surrounding the park’s moat.
Cherry blossoms in both Goryokaku Park and Hakodate Park will be illuminated by 500 Japanese paper lanterns every evening until May 10. The illuminations will be held from 7:00pm until 9:00pm on weekdays and from 7:00pm until 10:00pm on weekends and national holidays (April 29, May 4-6).
In Sapporo the most popular cherry blossom viewing spot is Maruyama Park, home to 1500 cherry trees and located about ten minutes by taxi from the city centre.
Asahikawa’s Asahiyama Park, located next to the city’s popular Asahiyama Zoo, is a famous local cherry blossom spot and is the only place in the city where the blossoms can be viewed at night under the illumination of spotlights.
Full bloom (no less than 80 percent of the blossoms are open) and optimum viewing time occurs approximately one week after the estimated blooming date.
The JMA advises that actual blooming dates may vary from the estimated dates by approximately 2-3 days on average.
Rain, wind and temperatures can have a major effect on the cherry blossom viewing season, such as delaying or shortening it considerably.