(CNN) — Spring has already sprung — at least for certain confused cherry trees in Japan.
The famed “sakura,” or cherry blossoms, have been regarded as a herald of spring for thousands of years — and the industry that springs up around “hanami” — cherry blossom viewing — each year is worth millions.
Photo taken October 16, 2018, shows cherry blossoms blooming out of season in the northeastern Japan city of Sendai.
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The Somei-yoshino variety of cherry blossom develops its buds during the summer months, Wada tells the state broadcaster, but the trees’ leaves prevent their blooming by releasing a hormone that inhibits their growth.
Because many of the trees lost their foliage during the summers’ violent storms, there has been nothing to stop the buds’ development. This, coupled with warmer temperatures following the storms, has resulted in the earlier-than-planned blooming.
It’s an odd development for a country obsessed with the short hanami season, which habitually takes place in the early months of the year — given the size and geographical spread of the country, the cherry blossom appear at different times and usually only last for a few days.
In January they’re already in bloom way down in Okinawa, but for the rest of the country, viewing times vary from late March until the second week of May.
The Japan Weather Association’s annual sakura forecast is broadcast live, and it brings with it a flurry of domestic and international bookings as travelers rush to make the most of the country’s stunning landscapes and scenery.