published: 2017-04-08 14:33:50 (3 Apr 2017) Hundreds of people joined together to celebrate the start of spring under Tokyo’s cherry blossom trees on Monday, as the Japanese capital reached peak bloom. At Ueno Park, students, families and businessmen alike took time out from their work day to feast and celebrate together, following an age-old Japanese tradition. The park boasts 800 cherry blossom trees with more than 50 varieties, attracting millions of visitors each year. Among the most popular cherry blossoms, known as “sakura” in Japanese, are the pastel pink “somei yoshino”, and the willowing “shidare.” Japan’s Meteorological Agency marked Tokyo’s full bloom on Sunday, but the optimal viewing period lasts little more than a week before the petals start to fall away. For many in Japan, the “hanami” flower viewing season is also a reminder of new beginnings – a new school year and a new fiscal year. University sophomore Takafumi Nakano says he marks the start of each school year by celebrating with his classmates. For some, the short-lived petals offer a different memory. Tan Shi, who studies Japanese painting, says cherry blossoms remind her of the fierce competition and years of studying that were required before she was eventually admitted into art school.
Cherry blossoms across Japan are expected to reach full bloom in the coming weeks.