Every year, the arrival of spring in Japan is accompanied by rows of breathtaking pink and white flowers. The cherry blossoms, also known as Sakura, have attracted numerous tourists during its journey flowering season which usually lasts from mid-March to early May. Tokyo is packed with tourists during its peak bloom in mid-March, while northern cities like Kyoto don't witness full bloom until April.
Spring came early this year when the cherry blossoms in cities in Japan that typically bloomed late blossomed early. At the top of the list was the ancient capital of Kyoto, which peaked on March 26. Records indicated that this was the earliest peak date the city had seen in over 1,200 years. Since the blossoms traditionally signified the rise of spring, scientists fear theirs early flowering may be related to climate change
A spring tradition
Celebrating the cherry blossom season is a Japanese tradition that dates back centuries. The cherry trees have an important connection with the history and culture of Japan bloom symbolizes human life and impermanenceSince the bloom is short, the blossoms are thought to signify the fleeting beauty of the living. The practice of celebrating cherry blossoms began between AD 794 and 1185, but has become popular in recent decades. Today, tourists flock to Japan to participate in flower viewing parties and witness the beauty of the flowers.
The cherry trees have also found their way to the American capital. In 1912 the trees were planted as a gift in Washington, D.C. symbolizes the friendship between the two countries. Centuries later, the bloom is still celebrated in the US in harmony with Japan.
Rising temperatures and early flowering
Kyoto has experienced an exceptionally warm spring this season. According to the Japanese Meteorological AgencyTemperatures in March have increased from an average of 47.5 degrees Fahrenheit in 1953 to 51.1 degrees Fahrenheit in 2020. The cherry blossom season has also shown a trend that occurred earlier in recent decades, leading scientists to pinpoint climate change as the possible culprit .
This long-term trend of elevated temperatures and early flowering was explored in a study published in the journal Organic conservation Researchers examined records of cherry blossom festivals celebrated in Kyoto as early as the ninth century to determine what the climate was like historically. The findings showed that a combination of climate change and urbanization can cause plants to bloom earlier in the urban environment. Increased temperatures happen because of the global fossil fuel combustion, a major cause of climate change, combined with the improved urban heat island effect, which happens when a city experiences warmer temperatures than nearby rural areas. The result is an early spring, which means that the cherry blossom season also starts earlier.
Kyoto is not the only area undergoing this change. Tokyo hit peak bloom on March 22, the second earliest date in history. Across the seas in Washington, D.C., cherry trees peaked on March 28, about six days earlier than a century ago. As in Japan, the weather in the US capital has also shown a pattern of warmer springs with an increase of 2.88 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 100 years.
The early bloom has captivated the interests of climate activists and researchers around the world
the world that sees it as another indicator of climate changeAnd as the years go on, more data may come from the Japan Meteorological Agency as they continue to monitor weather conditions during the cherry blossom season.