Japan Cherry Blossom Season – Business Aviation Guide

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Tourism in Japan during cherry blossom season, or “Sakura,” is one of Japan’s busiest peak seasons for business aviation travel. The season, typically spanning late March to early April, offers a unique opportunity for visitors to experience Japan’s rich cultural tapestry and stunning natural beauty.

According to an analysis from Kansai University, an estimated 63 million people travel to and within Japan to view the cherry blossoms, contributing approximately $2.7 billion to the economy. This influx of visitors can put a strain on service providers and sell out hotels, so it’s best to plan any mission in advance.

Here’s everything you need to know about operating a business jet to Japan for the 2024 cherry blossom season.


2024 Japan Cherry Blossom Bloom Schedule

Here are cherry blossom flowering and blooming dates in Japan for 2024 based on the first forecast released by Japan Meteorological Corporation:

  • Kochi – Flowering on March 18; Full bloom on March 26
  • Fukuoka – Flowering on March 21; Full bloom on March 30
  • Tokyo – Flowering on March 23; Full bloom on March 30
  • Hiroshima – Flowering on March 22; Full bloom on April 1
  • Nagoya – Flowering on March 21; Full bloom on March 31
  • Osaka – Flowering on March 25; Full bloom on April 1
  • Kyoto – Flowering on March 23; Full bloom on April 1
  • Kanazawa – Flowering on April 1; Full bloom on April 7
  • Sendai – Flowering on April 8; Full bloom on April 12
  • Sapporo – Flowering on May 2; Full bloom on May 6
  • Wakayama – Flowering on March 23; Full bloom on March 31
  • Kochi – Flowering on March 18; Full bloom on March 26
  • Kagoshima – Flowering on March 22; Full bloom on April 3
  • Aomori – Flowering on April 21; Full bloom on April 25
  • Nagano – Flowering on April 6; Full bloom on April 12

April, which is a peak month for cherry blossom viewing, the number of foreign visitors to Japan reached a record high of 2,926,700, as reported by the Japan Tourism Agency.


Japanese Cities Impacted

Major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka become prime destinations. Key locations such as Ueno Park in Tokyo and Maruyama Park in Kyoto are bustling with activity, with locals and tourists alike partaking in outdoor picnics under the blossoms.

The season’s impact is not limited to popular tourist hubs. Regions like Hokkaido and Okinawa, with their differing climates, extend the Sakura viewing period. Destinations such as the Hirosaki Castle Park in Aomori and Yoshino in Nara, while less known internationally, offer spectacular views, often with fewer crowds.


Most Popular Airports

RJBB (Kansai International Airport) for Kyoto

  • Slot Availability: RJBB generally has a sufficient number of slots available, making it easier to schedule flights.
  • Parking Constraints: Parking space is limited at RJBB, necessitating early reservation to secure a spot.
  • Ground Service Limitations: Due to staffing shortages, ground service capabilities may vary and can be limited. This might affect services like baggage handling and check-in processes.
  • Recommendation: Planning ahead is key. Ensure to book parking spots early and make necessary arrangements for ground services to avoid inconvenience.

RJTT (Tokyo Haneda Airport) for Tokyo

  • Slot and Parking Availability: Both slots and parking are in high demand and limited at RJTT, requiring advanced booking.
  • Ground Service Limitations: Similar to RJBB, RJTT also faces limitations in ground services due to manpower issues, potentially impacting various airport services.
  • Recommendation: Early planning is essential. Secure flight slots and parking spaces well in advance, and be prepared for potential limitations in ground services.

RJAA (Narita International Airport) for Tokyo

  • Slot Availability: RJAA offers a good number of slots, facilitating easier flight scheduling.
  • Parking Constraints: Despite the availability of slots, parking spots are limited at RJAA, necessitating advance booking.
  • Recommendation: To ensure a smooth travel experience, it’s advisable to plan your trip ahead, especially securing parking spaces.

In summary, for all these airports, the common advice is to plan and book as early as possible, considering the limited availability of parking and potential constraints in ground services. Early arrangements can significantly enhance your travel experience to these popular Japanese destinations.

 

 


Plan Ahead – Especially Hotels

For business aviation operators, this season presents challenges. Air traffic increases significantly, as does the demand for accommodations and ground services. Operators should plan for potential congestion at major airports and consider using alternate airports. Timely arrangements for landing permits, parking, and ground handling are crucial to ensure a smooth operation.

Note that hotel demand throughout Japan can run very high during cherry blossom viewing season, March through April.

Hotels and ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) typically charge higher rates during this period, and the best accommodations and guides are booked months in advance. Popular tourist destinations like Tokyo and Kyoto can get particularly congested, with the first week of April often being the most crowded.


Conclusion

The 2024 Japan Cherry Blossom Season starts around March 18 this year and runs through late April. Expect high demand for services and hotels. Best practice is to book hotels well in advance.

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