It may still be snowing where you are, but spring is closer than you think. In fact, the first cherry blossom forecasts are already out for Japan—and the highly anticipated pink and white flowers are scheduled to arrive earlier than usual in 2019. Typically travelers plan their cherry blossom trips for mid-April to maximize their chances. But if you’re booking a flight to Japan in 2019, aim for late March to early April to see this year’s blooms, because the trees will start flowering as early as March 18 in some regions.
The Japan Meteorological Corporation recently released its first 2019 forecast. It predicts that the country’s cherry blossoms will begin to flower on March 18 in the southern prefecture of Kochi. Soon after, Tokyo’s cherry blossoms will start to flower on March 22, with full bloom expected on March 29, five days earlier than average.
Kyoto’s full bloom is expected on April 2, with Osaka’s arriving the next day on April 3—both two to three days ahead of schedule for an average year. Farther north in Hokkaido, where the climate is colder, the forecasted flowering and bloom dates are predicted to arrive more or less on schedule during the first week of May. It’s not the first time that most parts of the country have seen an early bloom. In 2018, buds appeared on trees as early as March 17 in Tokyo, the Japan Times reports.
According to the Japan Meteorological Corporation, temperature patterns from the previous year’s fall affect the dates when cherry blossom trees will flower and bloom the following spring. Warm temperatures across Japan since last October have led to these earlier flowering dates this spring—and if warm weather continues across Japan in January and February, the blooms could arrive even earlier than first predicted, the Japan Times reports.