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Tokyo and many parts of central Japan should prepare for the cherry blossom season to arrive early this year, according to a forecast that says winter’s icy grip may loosen sooner than usual.

Japan Meteorological Corp., an Osaka-based weather forecasting company, released on Feb. 1 its prediction of when the nation’s iconic sakura flowers will begin blooming. According to the forecast, which covers about 1,000 locations across the country ranging from Kyushu in the south to Hokkaido in the north, this year’s flowers are due to arrive on March 20 in Tokyo, as well as in Kochi and Kagoshima prefectures.

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