- Unusually warm weather leads to early blooming
- Coming weekend predicted to be season highlight
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.