Cherry blossoms begin to bloom in the capital earlier than anyone predicted.

Every year people around the country look to cherry blossom forecasts provided by meteorological experts in order to plan their springtime hanami flower-viewing activities. This year, forecasters predicted the blooms to arrive in Tokyo on 18 March, but reports yesterday from the city’s hyoujun-ki (“sample tree”) on the grounds of Yasukuni Shrine announced the blossoms had begun to open four days earlier than expected.

▼ Tokyo’s hyoujun-ki is the standard by which all Somei Yoshino cherry blossom trees in the city are gauged.

Somei Yoshino is the most prevalent variety of sakura that blooms around Japan, so the sighting of the first flower on the hyoujun-ki always makes news around the country when it’s formally announced by the Japan Meteorological Agency. 

The beginning of Tokyo’s sakura season is officially declared once five flowers on this sample tree are seen, and on the morning of 14 March, the first flower of the year had unfurled its petals.

Given yesterday’s warm weather, it didn’t take long for other flowers on the tree to open, and by 2:00 p.m., the agency confirmed that five flowers had blossomed, prompting them to declare the official start to Tokyo’s 2021 sakura season.

According to the agency, the 14 March blossoming date was 12 days earlier than average, the same day as last year’s first bloom on the tree, and the earliest flowering date since records began in 1953. The agency says February temperatures this year were the second highest on record, which contributed to the earlier-than-usual blooms.

This is the ninth consecutive year for early blooming in Tokyo, and officials now predict that full bloom will arrive in the capital in 7-10 days’ time.

That’s not long to go, so now’s the time to grab a chilled Starbucks sakura cup and start planning for hanami season. Although with the pandemic still ongoing, we’ll be sure to avoid the crowds we saw last year and opt for a safer, socially distanced cherry blossom stroll.

Source: Weather News 
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