Cherry blossom season officially begins in Tokyo
TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's weather agency announced the official beginning of cherry blossom season in Tokyo on Saturday, equalling the record for the earliest ever start.
The national weather service used the capital's central Yasukuni Shrine as a barometer to judge the start of the season, which sees an explosion of colours that last only about a week.
The March 16 date equals the previous record set in 2002, according to the agency, which has monitored cherry blossom since 1953.
Marking the coming of spring, the blooming of cherry trees is a beloved natural spectacle in Japan, involving nationwide parties and celebrations to take in the flowers' short-lived beauty.