Matsumotos Corner Vol.22

Cherry Blossoms and Climate Change

- Earlier Blooming Dates -

The best time to see cherry blossoms in Japan is in April, right? No, not necessarily. In the long north-to-south archipelago, their blooming varies over three months. What’s more, the blooming dates have been getting earlier in recent decades.

Since the Japanese love cherry blossoms so much, Japan’s meteorological authority announces their blooming every year during this season. The recorded data reaches for nearly 70 years, and some people have been studying how it correlates with temperature changes in the past.

One study shows that, since the start of observations, the average temperature in the season in the country’s various parts has risen by more than one degree, which has led to the average blooming dates more than five days earlier across the country. The change appears to be significant since the mid-1980s.

In Tokyo, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom on 22 March, both last year and the year before. 30 some years ago, in early April, I was joining a party with my colleagues under the full bloom of cherry trees. It was a chilly and shivering day. When I recall that, I feel strange to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom on 22 March. Of course, it fluctuates from year to year, but will it continue to get earlier and earlier?