Cherry blossoms finally burst into bloom in Tokyo on Friday after heavy rain in the morning, marking the latest blooming in over a decade.

The declaration of the blooming made by the Meteorological Agency came 15 days later than last year and five days later than in an average year. Private forecasters had also expected this year's bloom to come much earlier.

Friday’s blooming is the latest in Tokyo since 2012, when cherry blossoms were declared to have blossomed on March 31, according to the agency.

Cherry blossom forecasting is big business in Japan. As early as in January, companies start to issue forecasts for when cherry blossoms will first bloom and reach their peak.

The weather agency, which began forecasting the annual bloom in 1955, sets a government standard for observing cherry blossom trees. For consistency, the meteorological agency only uses data gathered from the Somei-Yoshino variety, which produces pale pink blossoms.

There are 58 example trees across the nation preselected by the agency, with these used by private weather forecast companies. In Tokyo, for instance, the tree is located at Yasukuni Shrine in Chiyoda Ward.

According to the rules set by the agency in declaring the annual bloom, a tree is considered to be blossoming once five or six flowers have opened on the branches of the tree. Once 80% of the tree has flowered, it’s deemed to be in full bloom.

This year marks the first time since 2020 that cherry blossom-viewing, or hanami, a major seasonal event in Japan, can be held in the absence of COVID-19 guidance, as the government downgraded its classification of the coronavirus in May last year.