Hanami season began today in the capital, giving us a better idea of when to expect the glorious full bloom period.

Media outlets around the country went into overdrive yesterday, with reports confirming the blossoming of five flowers on the hyoujun-ki (“sample tree”) in Nagasaki Prefecture.

Given that five blossoms is the number required for the Japan Meteorological Agency to officially confirm the start of the year’s Somei Yoshino (the country’s predominant type of sakura) hanami flower-viewing season, the news meant that sakura season had finally arrived in Japan.

▼ Yesterday’s announcement heralded the start of the 2019 “sakura front” (pictured below, with confirmed and predicted blossoming dates).

Image: Weathernews

Once the first Somei Yoshino tree blossoms, others around Japan are quick to follow, as the sakura front begins to travel northwards across the country. And as temperatures rose above 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) in Tokyo yesterday, reports emerged that the capital’s official hyoujun-ki, located on the grounds of Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, was showing three blossoms.

▼ The sample tree at Yasukuni Shrine, photographed during full bloom in 2018.

That was two short of the total needed to officially declare the start of the sakura season in Tokyo, but this morning, just after 10 a.m., the Japan Meteorological Agency confirmed that five blossoms had appeared on the sample tree.

This prompted the agency to declare the official start to the 2019 hanami season in Tokyo, which set off a flurry of excited reports from news outlets, who had gathered around the tree since the early hours of the morning.

The start of the Tokyo sakura season is an important annual event, and was broadcast live into homes soon after the announcement was made.

The 21 March blossoming date in Tokyo comes five days earlier than the average, and four days later than last year. While it usually takes about a week for the blossoms to reach full bloom, temperatures in the capital are expected to dip this weekend, slowing the growth of the blossoms and leading the meteorological agency to maintain their original predicted date for full bloom to occur in the capital around 29 March.

▼ The sample tree at Yasukuni Shrine in full bloom last year.

This makes the weekend of 30-31 March the perfect time for hanami cherry blossom viewing parties in Tokyo’s parks and gardens. So pack your sakura mugs and cups into a picnic bag and plan your day out under the blossoms with this list of the best sakura spots in the country.

Source: Weathernews
Featured image: Instagram/yagi.osamu
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