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Japan's famous cherry blossom season officially began on Monday

Spring arrives in Japan as cherry blossom comes to life

Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 10:54 GMT -

It's official - Monday marked the first day of the cherry blossom season in Tokyo, according to Japan's Meteorological Agency.

The whole nation's attention has been focused over the last few days on one particular tree, located at the Yasukuni shrine and considered the government's cherry blossom bloom barometer.

A count of five fully-opened flowers on the 'official sample tree' on the grounds of this shrine marks the day the Japanese count as the government sanctioned start to cherry blossom season.

It has come three days earlier than on average and two days earlier than last year.

The beginning of the cherry blossom season is of huge importance in Japan, with the Japanese Meteorological Agency tracking the cherry blossom front as it tracks northwards across Japan with the approach of warmer weather.

Cherry blossom season typically lasts in Tokyo for a week to 10 days with many coming out in to parks to enjoy the warmer spring weather in the centuries old tradition of "hanami" or cherry blossom viewing picnics, which take place under the cherry blossom trees.

In Japan, schools and companies begin their new year in spring, around the time when the blossoms are in full bloom, with the light pink flowers symbolising new beginnings and fresh starts.

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