Japan Meteorological Agency makes the call one day earlier than anticipated.
After a sunny and pleasantly warm weekend in the Tokyo area, rain clouds rolled into eastern Japan on Monday evening. But though wet, foggy atmospheric conditions greeted Tokyoites as they woke up on Tuesday morning, March 21 also brought with it the surest sign of spring in Japan, as the cherry blossoms officially have begun blooming in Tokyo.
Making that call is the Tokyo Regional Headquarters office of the Japan Meteorological Agency. Each year, the organization keeps a close eye on a set of representative somei yoshino sakura trees that grow on the grounds of Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo. When flowers are observed blooming on six or more trees, the agency considers the sakura to be in bloom, and that criteria was met on the morning of March 21.
The happy event comes a day earlier than the March 22 date predicted by the Japan Meteorological Corporation (a separate entity from the Japan Meteorological Agency), and five days sooner than Tokyo’s average cherry blossom blooming date of March 26, as calculated from data collected between 1981 and 2010. March 21 was also Tokyo’s sakura start date in 2016, falling somewhere between the decade-to-date’s early mark of March 16 (2013) and literal late blooming of March 31 (2012).
Now before you go gargling a tablespoon of hot sauce to get the right vocal quality to call in sick so you can ditch work, bear in mind that Tokyo’s cherry blossoms have just started to open, and won’t be nearing full bloom for at least another week or so. Nonetheless, if you’re planning on putting together a hanami (cherry blossom viewing party) posse, now would probably be a good time to start making some phone calls.
Follow Casey on Twitter, and he promises to say hi if you bump into each other at hanami.