Photo/Illutration Cherry blossoms at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on March 14 (Koichi Ueda)

Cherry blossoms began blooming in central Tokyo on March 14, tying the record for the earliest sighting since 1953 when data on the event was first collected.

The Tokyo Regional Headquarters of the Japan Meteorological Agency announced cherry blossoms had opened at war-related Yasukuni Shrine in Chiyoda Ward.

Officials of the regional headquarters counted five flowers that had opened on a sample tree, the benchmark figure used to announce the news.

This year’s record tied that of last year.

The cherry blossoms are expected to reach their peak in a week.