WASHINGTON

Cherry Blossoms Reach Full Bloom in Tokyo

Japan's famous cherry blossoms have reached full bloom in Tokyo as spring-like weather descends on the nation's capital. 

Crowds flocked Monday to popular spots in much of Japan to enjoy the sea of delicate pink and white blooms. 

Some laid down picnic sheets at Shinjuku Gyoen, a former imperial garden in the heart of Tokyo, to enjoy "hanami," the custom of blossom viewing. Eating and drinking under the trees is a popular pastime. 

People young and old strolled beneath a canopy of cherry blossoms on a walkway along the Meguro River, also in central Tokyo. Some stopped to take selfies or close-ups of the blooms. 

"There are of course so many beautiful flowers, but nothing compares to the cherry blossom," said one, Hiroko Igarashi. 

The bloom in Tokyo is expected to last until the end of this week.

Cherry blossom lovers in the Washington, D.C., will have to wait a little longer to take in peak bloom. 

Unseasonably chilly temperatures have pushed peak bloom back two times. 

The National Park Service is now forecasting the peak bloom period in D.C. will be April 8 to 12. It initially was predicted to happen March 17 to 20. On March 12, officials pushed it back by 10 days, to March 27 to 31. 

Peak bloom means at least 70 percent of the trees around D.C.'s Tidal Basin are blossoming. Once peak bloom is reached, the blossoms can remain on the trees from four to 10 days.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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