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A cherry blossom is the name for the flower of cherry trees known as Sakura in Japanese. The practice of sakura hanami is many centuries old. The custom is said to have started during the Heian Period (794–1185), sakura came to attract more attention and hanami was synonymous with sakura. Every year the Japanese Meteorological Agency and the public track the sakura zensen (cherry-blossom front) as it moves northward up the archipelago with the approach of warmer weather via nightly forecasts following the weather segment of news programs. The blossoming begins in Okinawa in January and typically reaches Kyoto and Tokyo at the end of March or the beginning of April. Japanese pay close attention to these forecasts and turn out in large numbers at parks, shrines, and temples with family and friends to hold flower-viewing parties. Hanami festivals celebrate the beauty of the cherry blossom and for many are a chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful view.Read More