Cherry Blossoms Are Hauling in the Yen For Japan

Cherry Blossoms Are Hauling in the Yen For Japan

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The Tsugaru train in Aomori Prefetcure amidst cherry blossoms
Picture: denkei / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
Move over, Ohtani Shohei and Taylor Swift: economists say that cherry blossoms are about to give Japan an economic windfall. Learn how businesses are taking advantage of Sakura Fever.

Cherry blossoms will boost Japan’s economy as the country enters the best week to view the flowers. Businesses are taking advantage and pushing boundaries with how far they can tailor products to seasonal trends.

Japan’s money tree

Inokashira Park in Tokyo. (Picture: Masa / PIXTA(ピクスタ))

Cherry blossoms will have an economic impact 1.8 times larger than last year of over ¥1.13 trillion (over $7.5 billion) this season, according to renowned Japanese economist Professor Katsuhiro Miyamoto from Kansai University. That means cherry blossoms will generate as much money as it would take to build 17 Skytrees.

The economic boost of the spring flowers dwarfs the estimated ¥64.3 billion ($424 million) impact of Shohei Ohtani’s move to the Los Angeles Dodgers last December and the projected ¥34.1 billion ($229.6 million) generated from Taylor Swift’s Tokyo leg of the Eras Tour this February.

Miyamoto projected that approximately 61.39 million Japanese citizens and 3.73 million inbound tourists in 2024 will partake in hanami (花見), or cherry blossom viewing.

10% of local hanami goers will be residents under 20 who will spend an average of approximately ¥4,935 ($32) per person. The remaining local hanami demographic will spend exactly ¥2,000 ($13) more per person. That brings residents’ spending on hanami to over ¥412 billion (over $2.7 billion).

The Japan Tourist Bureau (JTB) estimates that inbound tourists between March and May will spend over ¥112 billion (over $746 million) to cover accommodation expenses and overall travel budgets at hanami locations.

“The Easter holidays in Europe and America overlaps [with hanami season] every year. For foreigners who visit Japan for tourism purposes will strongly associate Japan and cherry blossoms, which makes [hanami] very popular,” JTB says.

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Best of views coming next week

Cherry blossoms will fully bloom within the next week, according to the Japan Weather Association’s (JWA) latest forecasts.

Tokyo March 30th

Kyoto April 1st

Osaka April 2nd

Nagano April 12th

Sapporo May 1st

Tokyo’s cherry blossoms will be at their peak beauty just as the Meguro River Cherry Blossom Festival ends on March 31st. Other festivals, such as the ones in Chiyoda and Ueno, will continue for the first week of April.

Cherry blossom illuminations in Shibuya last even longer, until April 10th. Digital cherry blossoms at the Konica Minolta Planetaria and Team Lab might spare those arriving late to Japan from missing out.

Cherry blossom branding

Picture: まちゃー / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

A week out from the best of cherry blossoms to bloom to fullness, venues and businesses are already on standby.

The unusually cold March weather has fouled up plans for kicking off the cherry blossom season. Officials from the Osaka District Meteorological Observatory were unable to identify more than the 5 to 6 flowers required to declare “blooming season” in Osaka Castle Park on March 25th, MBS News reports.

Still, food vendors were already parking their trucks on walkways leading to the castle. The park has also set up a barbeque area with 1,000 outdoor seats.

From stores as bougie as Daimaru to casual as 7-Eleven, hanami marketing strategies drive sales at full speed. Bento boxes for outdoor picnics and cherry blossom-inspired desserts line store shelves.

Fast-food chains are not missing out on the hype either. Domino’s is selling what has become a social media food challenge––sakura pizza. (For Italians and those easily triggered by unconventional pizza toppings, further reader discretion is advised.) The toppings of the sakura (aka cherry blossom) pizza are sakura chocolate, cheese, pink tapioca, strawberries, powdered sugar, and condensed milk with a crust stuffed with mozzarella cheese.

Picture: Dominos Japan official Web site

We’re not sure if we’d eat this. But, on the other hand, it seems more appetizing than the chain’s previous pickle pizza.

Starbucks just recently wrapped up its seasonal offering of a sakura frappuccino but still sells sakura-flavored chiffon cakes and donuts.

McDonald’s, popular for its seasonal specials like the Tsukimi menu in the fall when Japan celebrates the month of the autumnal moon, also incorporates spring flavors this time of year. Last year, sakura mochi pies were on the dessert menu. Its cousin, the plum tree ume (梅), challenged the conventional taste of fries in this year’s limited edition fries seasoned with ume and seaweed powder.

What to read next

Sources

今年のお花見の経済効果は一兆1359億円 去年のほぼ倍、外国人観光客も桜大好き. JCASTニュース

大谷翔平のドジャーズ移籍 来年の経済効果は643億円 関西大の宮本勝浩名誉教授. 産経新聞

お花見の準備はOK?桜の名所・大阪城公園ではバーベキュー会場の座席数増 百貨店やスーパーは弁当・惣菜を充実 コロナ5類以降後の“花見シーズン”. MBS NEWS

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