People in Fukushima Prefecture have hailed the blooming of a giant, 1,000-year-old cherry tree as Japan's "sakura" blossom front heads northeast.
The 13-meter-tall weeping cherry tree is located in the town of Miharu. It is known for its cascading blossoms, and has been designated a natural monument by the government.
On Monday, Miharu Mayor Yoshinori Suzuki declared that the tree has officially started to blossom. It comes a few days earlier than usual.
Many people are already visiting and taking photos. A woman who came from Hokkaido said she felt empowered by the gigantic tree, and that she wants to visit again.
A man on a group tour from Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo said it was a little early to view the tree at its best, but that he was impressed by the shape of its branches.
Town officials say the tree is expected to be in full bloom by around the weekend.