Cherry blossoms early

Travelworks tour guide Robyn Laing says the cherry blossom trees are flowering very early in Tokyo this year and it is the second earliest peak blooming since comparable records began in 1953.

Robyn’s leading the Cherry Blossom tour I was on last year, departing Auckland on April 1.

However, the Japan Meteorological Agency said peak bloom has appeared 12 days earlier than normal, thanks to warmer-than-usual temperatures in March – early in the month in eastern Japan, temperatures were on average 2.6 degrees Celsius higher than usual, while in mid-March, they were 2.9 degrees higher than normal.

The very first flowers opened in Tokyo on March 16, tying the earliest date on record, the Asahi Shimbun English-language newspaper reports. Robyn adds that one particular tree at Yasukuni Shrine is watched to announce the start of the cherry blossom (sakura) season in Tokyo.

“Just as well Ralph [Levinson, Travelworks owner] has side trips to the north and higher elevations built into the tour,” Robyn says. “Hopefully we’ll see some yoshino [much like our Awanui] higher up, while at sea level we should see double and other later flowering cherry, masses of azaleas and probably wisteria too.”

Weeping cherry blossom at Nagoya Castle.

Despite each variety of cherry blossom being relatively short lived, parks and gardens are generally planted with succession flowering in mind to extend the season as long as possible.

So what to do? Japan-guide.com has put together some viewing spot ideas for those tourists (most of them probably) who will likely miss the blossoms in Tokyo. Thanks to Robyn for the link.

Our Cherry Blossom tour last year was indeed fortunate – fresh yoshino blossom in Tokyo and peak flowering in Nagoya and Kyoto.

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