Japan's 2009 cherry blossom season has been declared opened; two weeks earlier than usual. This is mainly due to the effects of global warming, as the temperatures have been higher than average in February and March. The season usually lasts about one month, but varies depending on the location in Japan. This early start is happening for the forth consecutive year.
There are hundreds of different types of flowering cherry trees in Japan, some of which are hundreds of years old and date back to the time of the Samurai. Some of them are double-flowered cherry trees (yae-zakura), which bloom over a long period to give people extra time to enjoy their beauty.
Millions of Japanese celebrate the cherry blossom season with picnic style parties, known as Hanami parties, under the flowering cherry trees in public and private gardens, and parklands across Japan. From the above photo, it looks like the the most popular spots can get quite crowded.
This centuries old tradition involves getting together with family, friends, colleagues or classmates and admiring the exquisite pink blossoms over some sweet dumplings and sake. People visit ancient temples, shrines and castles to view the cherry blossoms. Some gardens and parks are in former Imperial residences, now open to the public, and are very popular during this time of the year.
I would love to see these beautiful trees one day, but until then I have found some gorgeous photos to wet my appetite. I hope you enjoy.