Cherry trees bloomed on Thursday in Hiroshima, the first in the nation this year and the second-earliest on record since observations began in 1953, the Meteorological Agency said.

It is the first time the country's earliest blooming of the Somei-Yoshino variety has been observed in Hiroshima.

The earliest ever blooming was recorded on March 10, 2010, in the city of Kochi, according to the agency.

At Shukkeien Garden in Hiroshima, an agency official found more than five flowers on a tree designated for observation Thursday afternoon, fulfilling conditions to declare the blooming of the flowers 16 days earlier than in an average year and 11 days earlier than last year.

The tree is expected to be in full bloom in a week to 10 days, the agency said.

"Spring-like weather observed in February may have hastened the blooming," one of the agency officials said.