Page last updated at 15:52 GMT, Friday, 25 December 2009

Japan weather agency ends cherry-blossom forecasts

Cherry blossom in Tokyo's Ueno Park (file image)
Families all over Japan turn out to view the cherry blossom

Japan's official weather agency is to stop giving forecasts for the start of the cherry-blossom season, one of the country's most enduring annual rituals.

The agency has been trying for more than half a century to predict where and when the trees will bloom.

Towns and businesses plan parties for cherry-blossom season, and forecasters have been made to apologise in the past for getting the dates wrong.

Avid flower-viewers will now have to consult private-sector services.

"The agency has given out such information in early March every year but we will no longer do so from next year," said Yoshitoshi Sakai, an official from the agency's observation division.

The agency would continue observing cherry trees throughout the nation to declare the official opening of the flower season and aid studies of climate change, he added.

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