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Tuesday, 15th December 2015
In Weather In Japan,

Kagawa's plum trees are blooming already

It has been an exceptionally mild winter in Japan’s Kagawa Prefecture, which is evidenced by the fact that the plum trees are already coming into flower.

Never has it been recorded that the trees in Takamatsu City have been in bloom so early, with the warm temperatures credited for the phenomenon.

Visitors spotted blossoms on the 50-year-old trees in Kuribayashi Park on Sunday (December 13th), Fuji TV reported.

The sightings were confirmed by staff from the Meteorological Observatory, who said five or six flowers could be seen.

Usually, plum trees start to flower in February and are seen as the beginning of spring, so spotting them in December is very rare.

Temperatures in Takamatsu City on Monday were more akin to those expected in mid-November, as opposed to December, with the mercury hitting 16.4 degrees.

The average for this time of the year is four degrees higher.

A spokesman from the Japan Meteorological Agency told Japan Today that the warm weather has “fooled the trees into thinking that spring has come”.

El Nino has been blamed for the unseasonably warm weather, which is currently warming the sea-surface temperatures of the Pacific.

While plum tree blossoms don’t get the same attention in Japan as cherry blossoms do, their red-tinged, pink and white flowers are still pretty.

Plum blooms come earlier than their cherry equivalent, although there can be some overlap with late-blooming specimens.

The main way to tell the difference is that cherry blossom flowers exhibit split-ended petals and plum flowers do not.

Cherries also form clusters of blooms on a long stem on the branch, while plums have just one flower per bud.

Despite the plum blossoms arriving early in Takamatsu City, it is likely that February will still be a good time to view them in Tokyo, as the capital is some five and a half hours away by train.

Top spots to take in the blooms in the city include the Yishima Tenjin shrine, which includes a staircase surrounded by plum trees, and Hanegi Park, where some 650 trees come into flower in the new year.

Many of the best plum tree blossom locations hold annual festivals to celebrate the natural phenomenon and welcome the spring.

They often include performances of traditional song and dance, as well as processions and plenty of food stalls.

Some of the items on sale are made using plums as a main ingredient, such as madeleines and jelly.

An added benefit of enjoying plum tree blossoming season, as opposed to the more famous cherry tree flowering period, is that it tends not to be as busy.