Japan’s Cherry Blossoms Peak on Earliest Date in 1,200 Years in Sign of Climate Change

By Kurt Stolz on 4 April 2021
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Japan’s cherry blossoms season, the country’s traditional sign of the start of spring, peaked last Friday, the earliest date on record according to Osaka University.

Records go back to the year 812.

The previous record in the former imperial capital was set in 1409, when the season reached its peak on March 27.

Hanami, the term used to describe the centuries-old Japanese custom of enjoying the transient beauty of cherry blossoms, and sometimes plum blossoms, is celebrated by having an outdoor party under the sakura, or cherry tree blossoms.

The various matsuri or festivals both in Japan and across the globe attracted thousands of tourists each year before the coronavirus pandemic.

The peak bloom date was generally stable for 1,000 years, from 812 to 1800, at which time the peak bloom time began to occur earlier and earlier, indicating a pattern in climate change.

“In Kyoto, records of the timing of celebrations of cherry blossom festivals going back to the 9th Century reconstruct the past climate and demonstrate the local increase in temperature associated with global warming and urbanization,” according to a paper published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation.

The early arrival of sakura was not limited to Japan.  In Washington, the 3,800 cherry trees on the National Mall, peaked days ahead of schedule.  The trees there were a gift from the city of Tokyo and were planted as saplings in 1910.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)