Cherry blossom season begins in Tokyo

USA Today published an article on Cherry Blossom Season in Tokyo by Jay Alabaster.

The Japanese Meteorological Agency said Monday that the country’s capital was officially in bloom, a closely watched announcement that marks the start of the yearly cherry blossom viewing season.

The annual rite of spring in Japan goes back hundreds of years and involves sitting under “sakura” trees and taking in the fluffy pink flowers, which drop off about a week after they appear. In Tokyo, residents flock to parks to lay down tarps and claim the best spots, then host elaborate picnics and long drinking sessions.

In Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park, a small group of flower viewers gathered underneath cherry trees laden with pink buds…

Japan designates certain sakura trees for monitoring all across the country, and considers a region to be in bloom when at least five or six flowers can be counted on its trees. On Monday, an official government counter visited the Yasukuni Shrine, home to Tokyo’s trees, and proclaimed the city abloom.

When 80% of the trees’ flowers have opened, typically a few days later, an area is officially designated as in “full bloom,” prime time for blossom gazing and revelry.

This season starts a day later than last year in Tokyo, but six days before the historical average. The first flowers have bloomed earlier in recent years, triggering concerns of global warming. In the southern, warmer Okinawa islands, cherry blossoms began blooming in late December.

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