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Cherry blossoms in Japan expected earlier than usual.

TOKYO, March 5 Kyodo

Cherry blossoms in Japan are likely to start blooming March 17, earlier than usual, with Tokyo expected to see the cherry trees blossoming from March 20, the Japan Meteorological Agency said Tuesday.

The early flowering will be the result of warmer temperatures in the central and western regions of the country since January, said the weather agency, which has been compiling data since 1953.

The city of Kochi in western Japan on the Pacific Ocean coast will be the first to see the ''somei yoshino'' blossoms on March 17, six days earlier than in a normal year, the agency said.

In Kumamoto, southwestern Japan, the ''sakura'' blossoms will appear March 18, followed by Miyazaki, also in southwestern Japan, and Yokohama from March 19.

Nagoya and Shizuoka will also see cherry trees flowering from March 20.

The blossoms in Chiba Prefecture's Tateyama, south of Tokyo, and Utsunomiya in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo, will appear 10 days earlier than usual, with those in Tateyama flowering from March 21 and in Utsunomiya on March 24.

Okayama in western Japan is likely to see blossoms on March 22, the earliest ever for the city, while March 20 would also be the earliest date ever recorded for Tokyo, the agency said.

Blossoms are likely to appear in Fukuoka and Hiroshima from March 22, and in Osaka from March 23.

Cities along the Japan Sea coast will probably see blossoms appearing from March 28 in Tottori and Kanazawa, from April 1 in Toyama, and from April 3 in Niigata. In Nagano, central Japan, blossoms will start flowering from April 8.

The cherry blossoms are expected to be in full bloom about a week after starting blooming in Japan, where ''hanami'' -- cherry-blossom viewing -- is a popular springtime custom.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Mar 11, 2002
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