Cherry Blossom Season FAQ
Q: When is the best time for cherry blossom season photo sessions? How should we decide the photo shoot date?
A: The cherry blossom season in different parts of Japan varies because of the altitude and temperature. It starts earlier in southern Japan and ends the latest in Hokkaido.
The cherry blossom season for different prefecture and cities varies every year. The different trees within a park may also bloom at different times. Cherry blossom blooming largely depends on the weather. If it's still cold, the cherry blossoms won't bloom. If it's warm, the cherry blossoms may bloom earlier. Unfortunately, I'm unable to advise on exact dates for shoots. Clients will have to refer to blooming dates in the past few years and make a calculated gamble on the photo shoot.
And yes, there is a possibility that you might not be able to see cherry blossoms.
For past year blooming dates, you can refer to this
Q: Where is the best place for cherry blossom locations?
There are beautiful cherry blossoms in almost every prefecture and city in Japan. The popular cities are of course Tokyo and Kyoto because of their easy accessibility. There are many cherry blossom locations in major cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. However, they can also be extremely crowded during peak cherry blossom season. If you prefer to have a more comfortable experience, shooting at less crowded places, look towards lesser known cities or the countryside. I'm based in Toyama prefecture and there are many quiet cherry blossom locations.
Q: How long is the cherry blossom blooming season?
A: There are two important words to know. "Kaika" 開花 meaning the opening of the flowers, and "Mankai" 満開, meaning the full blooms of the flowers.
A city will usually announce kaika when a representative tree has a certain number of slightly opened flowers. This is usually not the peak of the blooms. The peak of the blooms is during "Mankai" when most of the flowers in the trees have their petals fully opened. This is the best time for photography because the colors on the trees are brighter and the trees look fuller.
Q: Can you recommend us some nice cherry blossom locations in Tokyo/Kyoto/Toyama?
A: Yes, of course I can! Upon confirmation of booking, I'll send a list of locations within client's chosen city of photo shoot. However, it's good to bare in mind that even though you may have shortlisted a cherry blossom location, it doesn't mean the cherry blossoms will definitely be in bloom during your photo session. From experience, the final cherry blossom location is often only decided a few days or even the day before the photo shoot!
Q: We want to do a full day of cherry blossom locations!
A: The cherry blossoms are extremely beautiful and I can totally understand why clients want plenty of photos with the cherry blossoms. I can spend a whole day taking pictures of the cherry blossoms because they are so beautiful! However, I like to remind clients to choose varied looking locations so that they can have more variety in their photo collection. Having a whole collection or flipping through an album with only cherry blossom locations can be a little repetitive and dull after some time.