Temperatures rose across Japan on Wednesday, with the mercury topping 20 degrees Celsius in central Tokyo for the first time this year.
Daytime highs were 21.5 degrees in central Tokyo and 20.8 in the southwestern city of Nagasaki. The temperatures are usual for April and May.
Officials at an observatory in Nagasaki said on Wednesday that cherry trees have started to bloom in the city. That's the first announcement of the start of the annual cherry blossom season in Japan this spring.
At Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo, officials from Japan's Meteorological Agency found only four blossoms on a sample tree of the Somei-yoshino variety on Wednesday. The figure is shy of the benchmark five or six for making a similar announcement.
At Tokyo's Ueno Park, a famous place for cherry trees, preparations are underway for a blossom-viewing event that starts on Thursday and runs through April 7. The park has about 800 cherry trees of 55 varieties.
With some trees starting to bloom amid warm conditions, local tourism officials hope flowers in the park will be at their best around the end of this month and attract many visitors.
The event's organizers have prepared 80,000 guide maps, and put up signs about garbage disposal and other matters in three languages around the park.