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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 March, 2004, 13:31 GMT
Japan on cherry blossom alert
Cherry blossom in Tokyo's Ueno Park (file photo)
Cherry blossom season is a national obsession in Japan
Cherry blossom viewing, a serious Japanese pastime, may begin historically early this year, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency.

Agency official Hideo Morizane said an unusually warm February may encourage the blossoms to open eight days earlier than usual.

Every year people in Japan head to prime viewing spots for eating and drinking sessions under the blossom.

Television news carries nightly reports of the cherry blossom "front".

Tokyo's earliest blooming on record was registered on 16 March, two years ago.

Each year weather forecasters plot the cherry blossom front as it sweeps from the sub-tropical south to the frozen north.

The Meteorological Agency has been keeping records in the capital region since 1951.

"We received some 100 phone calls asking about when the cherries will blossom after the agency announced its general prediction on Wednesday," Mr Morizane said.

Spring blossoms early in Japan
23 Mar 02  |  Asia-Pacific

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