The famous pink cherry blossoms of Kyoto reached full bloom this year on March 26, the earliest date in the 12 centuries since records began, according to a Japanese university.
The earlier flowering indicates climate change, said Yasuyuki Aono, a professor of environmental science at Osaka Prefectural University, who has compiled a database of records of the full blooms over the centuries.
Global temperatures in 2020 were among the highest on record and rivaled 2016 as the hottest year ever, according to international data compiled by the World Meteorological Organization and released in January this year.
“As the temperatures rise the onset of flowering is earlier,” Aono told Reuters in a Zoom interview.
Osaka University records include court documents from Imperial Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, as well as medieval diaries.
Cherry blossoms have long historical and cultural roots in Japan, heralding spring and inspiring artists and poets through the centuries.
In modern times, people gather under the cherry blooms every spring for hanami (blossom-viewing) parties that are often well lubricated with sake and can last for days.