People around the country are sharing stunning photos of the early-blossoming sakura in full bloom.

For those who can’t wait for Japan’s main sakura season to start, with the blossoming of the Somei-Yoshino cherry trees, the most widespread type of cherry blossom in the country, there’s a place in Shizuoka Prefecture that’s calling your name right now.

Located roughly 155 kilometres (96 miles) south of Tokyo, in the city of Kawazu on the Izu Peninsula, the region is known around the country for its famous Kawazu variety of cherry blossom, which blooms earlier than other sakura, characteristically bursting its buds in February every year.

Blossoming at a much slower pace than many other sakura varieties, the Kawazu cherry blossom trees can be enjoyed for a longer time by visitors, and now is the peak viewing period to go and see them. The Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival is being held until 10 March, and visitors to the region have been sharing breathtaking photos of the blossoms for the rest of the country to enjoy online.

The festival is held along the banks of the Kawazu River, where approximately 8,000 sakura trees bloom, creating a canopy of pink flowers for festivalgoers to walk under.

At night, the trees are lit up, creating a magical atmosphere.

First discovered in Kawazu in the 1950s, the Kawazu cherry blossoms are known for their bright pink color and large petals.

Not only do the blooms draw crowds of people, they also bring out the beautiful Mejiro, or Japanese white-eye, a small bird that can often be found enjoying nectar from plum and cherry blossom trees.

The bird often appears alongside fruit blossoms in traditional paintings and woodblock prints, where it’s admired for its beauty and recognised as a harbinger of spring.

Nowadays, dogs can be seen enjoying a spot of hanami cherry blossom viewing too!

If you’re unable to make it down to Shizuoka, the Matsudayama Herb Garden in Tokyo’s bordering Kanagawa Prefecture is also holding a Kawazu Cherry blossom Festival until 12 March, where visitors can take a tiny train ride under the blooms.

Matsudayama is also a beautiful location for viewing the blooms against the stunning backdrop of Mt Fuji.

The Kawazu cherry blossoms can be seen bringing bright splashes of pink to various places around Tokyo too!

The best viewing time for the early-blooming sakura is during the last two weeks of February, so be sure to get out and about soon to enjoy the blooms!

Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival / 河津桜祭り
Address: Shizuoka Prefecture, Kamo-gun, Kawazu-cho, Sasahara
Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Website (Japanese)

Matsudayama Herb Garden / 松田山ハーブガーデン
Address: Kanagawa-ken, Ashigarakami-gun, Matsuda-cho, Matsudasoryo 2951
Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Light-up viewing: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. (cancelled in the event of rain)
Website (Japanese)

Source: Sankei Shimbun
Featured image: Instagram/choku_sr