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Japan's first cherry blossoms of 2018 bloom in Kochi

Blossoms are seen on a Somei Yoshino cherry tree on the grounds of Kochi Castle in the city of Kochi on March 15, 2018. The tree is officially the first to bloom in Japan this year. (Mainichi)

KOCHI -- Japan's first Somei Yoshino cherry blossoms of the season have bloomed here, the Kochi Meteorological Office announced on March 15.

The first blossoms appeared seven days earlier than in an average year and 14 days earlier than last year. It is expected the trees will be in full bloom in seven to 10 days.

An official with the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA)'s Kochi office confirmed shortly after 4 p.m. on March 15 that six flowers had blossomed on a monitored tree on the grounds of Kochi Castle here, meeting the five- to six-flower standard for declaring a tree to be in bloom.

According to the Kochi office, the average temperature from late January to mid-February was 2 or 3 degrees Celsius lower than the average for that time of year. However, the cherry blossoms were apparently jumpstarted by a rise in average temperatures to the norm or higher from late February on.

Momoyo Okamoto, 41, strolling about the Kochi Castle grounds with her daughter, said, "I feel that spring has come."

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