Japan’s 2009 Cherry-Blossom Season Off to an Early Start
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Cherry Blossoms in Japan January 5, 2009 -- Motobu, Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/125 sec, f/6.3, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Cherry Blossoms in Japan
January 5, 2009

Japan's cherry-blossom season has arrived a bit early this year. During a drive in the mountains yesterday, we came across some cherry blossoms that were just starting to bloom.

There weren't many blooms yet, but already lots of buds....

Budding Spring in January -- Motobu, Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/125 sec, f/5, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
Budding Spring
in January

I normally don't post new cherry-blossom pictures until mid-to-late March (last year's “It Has Begun: Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto” went up on March 25th), although new plum blossoms do come a month earlier, with 2007's first plum-blossom post arriving in mid February, and last year's “Plum Blossoms at the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine” just catching the tail end of the plum-blossom on March 24th.

In yesterday's drive, we came across several different types of cherry blossoms. I think the ones above are known as kan'hizakura, while another kind we came across are quite a bit more..... rumply.... than I've ever seen...

Rumply Sakura of some sort -- Motobu, Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/125 sec, f/10, ISO 2000 — map & image datanearby photos
Rumply Sakura
of some sort

These rumply sakura were either somewhat deep pink, or almost pure white, but not much in between. The two colors could co-exist on the same branch.

White. Pink. -- Motobu, Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/125 sec, f/7.1, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
White. Pink.
Motobu, Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos

Cherry blossoms in the first week of the year. In the mountains. In Japan. Who would'a thunk.


All 11 comments so far, oldest first...

Wow…seeing things bloom in January’s pretty normal in San Diego, but that’s amazingly early for Kyoto…

Who said anything about Kyoto? 🙂   —Jeffrey

— comment by sumisu on January 7th, 2009 at 1:58am JST (8 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

I’m sure you are right in calling these kanhizakura, which is Prunus campanulata, distinct in its early flowering (early to mid-March in Tokyo, apparently), and its deep pink flowers. The frilly one is interesting, and I would guess is the same species, but a curious form – also in having two flower colours one one plant. You mentioned Prunus mume (“plum”) and there is a cultivar of that, ‘Omoi-no-mama’ which also can have white, pink, and even bi-coloured flowers.

Kanhizakura grows apparently wild in Okinawa (I had a look at the exif and map!) but is thought to have been introduced there long ago from Taiwan. It is not considered very hardy, but there used to be a large tree in woodland at the Royal Horticultural Society Garden at Wisley in Surrey.

Hoping for some more photographs of Okinawa.

— comment by Peter on January 7th, 2009 at 7:49pm JST (8 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Wow thats pretty early, hope there will still be some blossom left in Japan when I visit in March

— comment by Adrian on January 7th, 2009 at 10:00pm JST (8 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Indeed, as Peter deduced, these blossoms are in Okinawa, way down in the South China Sea. The locals told us to expect cherry blossoms in late January, so they are indeed a bit early. No cherry blossoms yet in Kyoto, and none expected until late March….

— comment by Jeffrey Friedl on January 8th, 2009 at 12:56am JST (8 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Well, it seems the observations of Sumisu were quite accurate . I admit to being somewhat puzzled by your response. All is clear now, especially since Peter added his insight. And were you aboard a boat when you took that neat island shot?

No, I was on a separate (larger,mall-sized) island. You can see a map of the exact location by clicking on the “full exif & map” link under the photo. The coastline has lots of bumps and arcs, so until you get used to the, er, lay of the land, when you see land way out across the water you don’t know whether it’s the the same mainland you’re on, or an island. —Jeffy

— comment by Grandma Friedl on January 8th, 2009 at 6:56am JST (8 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

As I was researching on the cherry blossom season, I came across your beautiful work which sidetracked me onto a path of visual feast amidst the story told in each of the photograph. I will continue to make travel plan to Tokyo and hope to be there for the blossom. Thanks for the experience!!

— comment by Lawrence Kwong on February 1st, 2009 at 7:55am JST (8 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

My family and I are all excited to see the cherry blossoms bloom. Hope we can watch them by end of March. Is this the best time to watch or better if 1st week of April?

I’d recommend the first week of April (which, of course, the “end of March” butts up against). If fluctuates by a few days every year, but as one point of reference, you can see how they developed a few years ago with the movie I made of the sakura outside my window. Some varieties come earlier and some come later, and plum (which can be extremely beautiful) come much earlier… already, there are some. —Jeffrey

— comment by Janine on February 7th, 2009 at 5:13pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hi there, I will be in Tokyo from mid to end of March. Probably related to an earlier question but how likely am I to catch the cheery blossoms there?

I don’t know much about Tokyo, but I suspect that you’ll have great plum blossoms early on, and some cherry blossoms toward the end. —Jeffrey

— comment by Swee on February 20th, 2009 at 10:18pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I am so impressed with your photo’s. My son is living in Naze and recently sent me home some dried cherry
blossoms. Your photo’s help me know how beautiful Naze and the surrounding area is. Thank you for sharing your photo’s.

— comment by Debbie on March 28th, 2009 at 5:40am JST (8 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

I am from Barcelona Spain. I like to visit Japan in 2010 during the Plum and Cherry blossoms, please suggest in wich place and period will be the best. End of March? and location ??

Time and location are dependent. In the far south, cherry blossoms bloom in January. In the far north, May. In Kyoto, cherry blossoms bloom anywhere from the last week of March to the 2nd week of April, with sometime toward the end of the first week of April being the most common “full bloom”, though it changes from year to year. Plum are much earlier, and start blooming in February, and peek in mid March, I guess. All the blossom pics on my blog have dates and map links, so you can get a good sense of Kyoto’s pickings there. —Jeffrey

— comment by Antonio on May 12th, 2009 at 5:36am JST (8 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Hi
Nice photos youve posted up on cherry blossoms!
Will be visiting Tokyo next year sometime end of March. How cold is it really? I heard that if the weather is still too cold, the cherry blossom wont bloom yet…

They stick to a pretty steady cycle that might be offset by a few days either way, bug otherwise generally predictable. It depends strongly on location, so find out when they tend to bloom where you’ll be, and aim for the middle of the historical range. —Jeffrey

— comment by Jaemmae on July 28th, 2009 at 10:21am JST (8 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink
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