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Earliest ever cherry blossoms in Tokyo

By Frances Cha
updated 2:56 AM EDT, Mon March 18, 2013
Tokyoites hit the parks over the weekend as sakura (Japanese cherry blossom) season got off to a record early start. Tokyoites hit the parks over the weekend as sakura (Japanese cherry blossom) season got off to a record early start.
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Early bloomers
Unusual warmth
Picnic in the park
Hanami party
National event
Crowd pleasing
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Unusually warm weather leads to early blooming
  • Coming weekend predicted to be season highlight

(CNN) -- Japan's prettiest national pastime of hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, has got off to its earliest start ever.

The Japan Meteorological Agency announced the beginning of cherry blossom, or 'sakura,' season over the weekend.

The declaration came after the agency's designated index tree at Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine showed the first flowers in bloom on Saturday, the Daily Yomiuri reported.

That's 10 days earlier than average and 15 days earlier than last year -- and due to unusually warm weather.

Visitors contemplating a quick trip to see the sakura should take note: the best time to see the blooming cherry trees should be next weekend, when the flowers are expected to be at their full glory.

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