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Japan’s Cherry Blossom Peaks at the Earliest Since 812 AD

Japan’s cherry blossom season, which welcomes spring in the country, has peaked at the earliest since it began to be recorded 1,200 years ago, researches showed.

Osaka University said the 2021 season in the city of Kyoto peaked on March 26 for the first time since 812 AD.

According to scientists, the earlier blooms in recent decades may be related to climate change. Reports indicated that there had been an unusually warm spring this year.

The last record was recorded in 1409, when the season peaked on March 27.

The blossoms, called “sakura” in Japanese, last only a few days after blooming. They have become very popular and important, both economically and culturally, and families or friends get together to capture the event in photos for social media.

The dataset of the cherry blossom season is very valuable as it dates back to very distant times, with first records found in imperial court documents and diaries.

A previous article published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation said: “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.”

Yasuyuki Aono, a researcher at Osaka Prefecture University, has followed up on the Cherry Blossom data back to 812.

“I have searched and collected the phenological data for full flowering date of cherry tree (Prunus jamasakura) from many diaries and chronicles written by emperors, aristocrats, governors and monks at Kyoto in historical time,” he wrote.

The researcher has done a phenological study, which focuses on seasons and biological events.

Research results suggested that, since about 1800, the peak date in Kyoto had gradually receded and moved from mid-April to the beginning of the month.

Experts closely monitor the progress of the cherry blossom season each year.

Moreover, the Japan Meteorological Agency publishes forecasts of the first blossoms and the peak of the season. This year, it started in Hiroshima on March 11, eight days earlier than the previous record set in 2004.