National

What season is it? Cherry trees seen blooming across Japan

Kyodo, Staff Report

Even cherry trees aren’t sure what to make of this year’s run of unusual weather.

Cherry blossoms, which usually bloom in the spring, have recently been flowering across the nation, likely due to typhoons that brought in warm air and salty seawater, according to Weathernews Inc. and other experts.

The Chiba-based company said it received reports of the Somei-Yoshino variety of cherry tree blossoming from 354 people in 39 prefectures earlier this month.

Experts say it is rare for cherry trees to blossom out of season in so many locations.

Weathernews said it started receiving reports of blooming around Oct. 9. One report from the city of Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture, included a photo of a couple of Somei-Yoshino cherry blossoms flowering on a tree with almost no leaves left, the firm said.

It conducted a questionnaire through its app between Oct. 12 and 14 that asked users whether they had recently come across blossoming cherry trees. It received 10,490 responses.

Many people in the southern Kanto, Tokai and Kinki regions, including a person in landlocked Saitama Prefecture, said they had seen the blossoms.

And even as far north as Sendai, a weeping cherry tree was seen blooming Tuesday.

Hiroyuki Wada, an arborist with the Flower Association of Japan who was interviewed by Weathernews, said cherry blossom buds are created during summer, but they usually don’t bloom until after the leaves fall because abscisic acid — a type of plant hormone that slows plant growth in preparation for the winter — is sent from the leaves to the buds to prevent them from blooming. However, Typhoon Jebi and Typhoon Trami, which landed on Japan in September, carried powerful winds and salty seawater that forced the trees to shed leaves. Warm air also came in from the south, possibly leading the flowers to blossom, he said.

“We sometimes see cherry blossoms during this season, but this year they were seen in a wide range of regions,” Wada said. “The number of blossoms was really small, so we don’t think it will have that much of an effect on how cherry blossoms will look next spring.”

“But there are cases where large branches were damaged due to the strong winds,” he added. “Trees could start rotting from the broken parts and this could put them in serious danger in a few years. Such trees need to be taken care of.”