Photo/Illutration A Somei-Yoshino cherry blossom seen on a tree at Yasukuni Shrine in Chiyoda Ward on March 14 (Hiroyuki Yamamoto)

Cherry blossoms started blooming in central Tokyo on March 14, tying the earliest record set in 2020 and 2021, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Its Tokyo Regional Headquarters announced that day that officials observed 11 flowers of the Somei-Yoshino cherry at 2 p.m. that had opened on a tree under watch at Yasukuni Shrine in Chiyoda Ward.

Five or six flowers must be visually confirmed before the office can declare that the cherry blossom season has started.

Record-keeping on the day of the first cherry blossom sighting in Tokyo began in 1953.

The announcement came six days earlier than last year and 10 days sooner than in an average year.

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

According to the Japan Weather Association and the regional JMA headquarters, the cold weather in December and January allowed for a smooth transition so the flower buds could end their dormancy and become active.

Then the warmer weather in March prompted the cherry blossoms to bloom earlier than in an average year, officials said.