Shortest HANAMI (Cherry Blossoms Viewing) Period in 1,200 Years…Due To Climate Change
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Spring is the most popular time for people from all over the globe to visit Japan for the viewing (Hanami) of the enchanted Japanese cherry blossoms (sakura). In Japan, “Hanami” is the centuries-old practice of drinking under a blooming sakura or ume tree. The custom is said to have started during the Nara period (710–794), when it was ume blossoms that people admired in the beginning, but by the Heian period (794–1185), cherry blossoms had come to attract more attention, and ‘hanami’ was synonymous with ‘sakura’. From then on, in both waka and haiku, “flowers” (花, hana) meant “cherry blossoms”. The custom was originally limited to the elite of the Imperial Court, but soon spread to samurai society and, by the Edo period, to the common people as well. Tokugawa Yoshimune planted areas of cherry blossom trees to encourage this. Under the sakura trees, people had lunch and drank sake in cheerful feasts.
In Japan, the cherry blossoms are coming in earlier and earlier. Across the ocean in Washington, D.C., 3,000 cherry trees that were originally gifted from Japan in 1912 as a symbol of friendship and later replaced have also been showing earlier blooming year after year. More about the earlier blooms described in the excerpt from wikipedia, in italics, below:
The flowering time of cherry trees is thought to be affected by global warming and the heat island effect of urbanization. According to the record of full bloom dates of Yamazakura (Prunus jamasakura) in Kyoto, Japan, which was recorded for about 1200 years, the time of full bloom was relatively stable from 812 to 1800’s, but after that, the time of full bloom rapidly became earlier and in 2021, the earliest full bloom date in 1200 years was recorded. The average peak day in the 1850s was around April 17, but in the 2020s it was April 5, during which time the average temperature rose by about 6 degrees (3.4 Celsius). According to the record of full bloom dates of Yoshino cherry in the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., around 1921 it was April 5, but around 2021 it was March 31. These records are consistent with the record of rapid increases in global mean temperature since the mid-1800s.
After the drop in number of COVID cases and the lift of the state of emergency, people in Japan came out to enjoy their hanami (viewing of cherry blossoms), earlier this year, due to global warming or climate change, in the video published on March 31, 2021, “Japanese fear early cherry tree bloom linked to climate change“, below:
Earlier blooming and shortened blooming period are also happening on the other side of the globe, in Washington, D.C., USA. The video below examines how earlier blooming resulting from global warming or climate change might impact cherry blossoms in the future, in the video published on Aug 11, 2014, “Climate Change and Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C.” below: “Climate Change and Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C.” below:
Early blooms can be ruined by winter storms. Research by Smithsonian Institute shows significant advance in blooming of the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. by 7 days between 1970 to 1999. This may potentially create a mismatch in phenology: mismatch between the time when flowers bloom and when bees, butterflies, and other pollinators mature and ready to pollinate. Published scientific papers indicated that if we do not reduce our emission from cars, power plants, and deforestation, further warming could potentially advance spring blooming by another week to a month by the end of the 21st century.
In the video published on April 4, 2021, “Washington DC Cherry Blossom Virtual Tour 4K Narrated“, below:
(The monument of Martin Luther King Jr. in the video above is highly recommended at 10:00-13:20 of the video.)
Remember: In Japan, “Hanami” is the centuries-old practice of drinking under a blooming sakura or ume tree.In the video published on April 17, 2017, “What Is Hanami?” below:
In the video published on April 17, 2018, “How to Hanami: A Beginner’s Guide to Cherry Blossoms Viewing in Japan“, below:
In the video published on Feb 22, 2018, “HANAMI IN TOKYO – From Morning til Night“, below:
In the video published on May 3, 2017, “Cherry Blossoms in Japan: From Sakura to Hanami“, below:
The national flower of Japan, the Japanese cherry blossom and sakura, is a flower of many trees of genus Prunus (consists of 400 species) or Prunus subg. Cerasus, widely distributed mainly in the northern hemisphere. In the mainstream classification in Japan, China, and Russia, on the other hand, ornamental cherry trees are classified into the genus Cerasus, which consists of about 100 species separated from the genus Prunus, and the genus Cerasus does not include Prunus salicina, Prunus persica (Peach), Prunus mume, Prunus grayana, amongst others.
For more about cherry blossoms in Japan and Hanami, please refer to the excerpt from wikipedia, in italics, below:
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. It proceeds into areas at the higher altitudes and northward, arriving in Hokkaido a few weeks later. 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. The custom of hanami dates back many centuries in Japan. The 8th century chronicle Nihon Shoki (日本書紀) records hanami festivals being held as early as the 3rd century AD.
Most Japanese schools and public buildings have cherry blossom trees outside of them. Since the fiscal and school year both begin in April, in many parts of Honshu, the first day of work or school coincides with the cherry blossom season.
The Japan Cherry Blossom Association developed a list of Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots (ja:日本さくら名所100選) with at least one location in every prefecture.
In the video published on Feb 19, 2018, “Top 10 Cherry Blossom Spots in Japan, japan-guide.com“, below:
So, let’s do what we can individually to slow down the climate change, by driving electric vehicle, biking, installing solar panels, wasting less, and eating less meat.
Climate change is a global issue. How the global warming will impact the agriculture will be covered in future posts at Windermere Sun.
Gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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