woodblock print from 1935 of an avenue of cherry trees, women in kimonos and shops

Japan’s cherry blossom season is peaking at the earliest time since records began over 1,200 years ago, according to Osaka Prefecture University. This is a problem, and not only as a sign of global warming.

Japanese people have been tracking peak cherry blossom viewing time for hundreds of years. There has been a longstanding tradition of celebrating their flowering by picnicking underneath the trees and celebrating their fleeting beauty in music, singing and dancing.

In modern times, employees arrange team outings, with food, drink and karaoke. There’s usually quite a fight to bag the best spots in parks near to offices. When the peak blossom time was early April, this coincided with the start of the new financial year, and was a good time to celebrate having closed and finalised the accounts from the previous year.

This year, the cherry blossoms are predicted to be in full bloom in Tokyo on March 30th or 31st. This means there is a risk that the cherry petals will be fluttering down, ending up in people’s bento boxes if the parties happen in early April. Further south, the peak will be even earlier.

Just to add to the worry, Japan is currently experiencing inflation, so Japanese people are being careful with their spending, particularly in terms of travelling to see the blossoms.

Last year there were still COVID restrictions in place, so this year should have been a time to celebrate the team, in person, and have some fun together.

If you’re working in a Japanese company – maybe you could find a cherry tree near your offices and invite your team for a picnic? Sharing the videos with your Japanese colleagues would be a nice touch too. So long as you’ve finished finalising the accounts for them, of course!

Perhaps you could even combine it with one of our team building workshops.

The print above is Avenue of Cherry Trees, 1935, Yoshida Hiroshi