A huge crowd throngs cherry tree-lined Inui Street at the Imperial Palace, where more than 100 trees are almost at their best, on March 24. (Reina Kitamura)

Huge crowds flocked to the grounds of the Imperial Palace on March 24 to view cherry tree-lined Inui Street, which is normally off-limits to the public.

The more than 100 cherry trees there are nearly at their peak. The Japan Meteorological Agency announced the same day that cherry blossoms had reached full bloom in Tokyo.

Fine weather ensured that a long line of visitors formed hours before the palace's Sakashita-mon gate was scheduled to open at 10 a.m., the first day of public viewing.

The horde of visitors prompted the Imperial Household Agency to move up the gate’s opening by 20 minutes to 9:40 a.m.

Inui Street is flanked by 103 cherry trees of 31 varieties along its 600-meter stretch, up from 75 trees of 12 varieties in fiscal 2016.

They include the quintessential somei yoshino variety, as well as weeping cherry trees.

“I really enjoyed viewing the blossoms and reading the signs describing which kind of cherry tree they were,” said Ayumi Hasegawa, 35, who traveled from the Tokyo suburb of Tachikawa with her 5-year-old daughter, Misaki.

The cherry blossoms on the street, which runs north to south, became accessible to the public for the first time in spring 2014 to mark Emperor Akihito’s 80th birthday.

It will be open between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. through April 1. Entry is permitted only from the Sakashita-mon gate on the side of Tokyo Station.