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Earliest ever start to Tokyo cherry blossom season announced as snow hits capital

Cherry blossoms are seen opening on a Someiyoshino tree amid falling sleet at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, on March 14, 2020. (Mainichi/Toshiki Miyama)

TOKYO -- The Japanese capital's sakura blossom season is officially underway according to a March 14 announcement by the Japan Meteorological Agency -- the earliest start on record.

The previous earliest ever date was March 16, set in both 2002 and 2013. This year's announcement, based on an iconic Someiyoshino sakura tree at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, is 12 days earlier than in an average year and seven days earlier than in 2019. The capital's cherry blossoms will reach their peak in around late March.

The announcement came in spite of chilly temperatures in the capital, which saw sleet and snow on the afternoon of March 14.

The official start to Tokyo's Someiyoshino season this year was announced earlier than in any other spot in Japan.

According to the Japan Weather Association, Tokyo's cherry blossom trees are expected to be in full bloom on March 23 this year.

(Japanese original by Ikuko Ando, City News Department)

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