Climate change moves Sakura season

In a Tokyo train station a couple weeks ago, a stranger asked me a lightning round of questions while I waited in line for the bathroom. She wanted to know why I was in Tokyo alone, and I told her I was in town to study the cherry blossoms – which were out and blooming, and the streets were filled with families and  vendors.

She could not wait to tell me what everyone is saying these days, that the cherry bloom is happening earlier than ever. The Tokyo streets used to fill with white and pale pink blossoms starting the first or second week of April. Now, the bloom crescendos in late March as high school and college students celebrate graduation. This is a rare case in which climate change brings people and plants more in sync. The cherry blossoms open just as young people are taking steps into new seasons of life. And, just like that, after a week, the bloom is replaced by a flush of green, and life resumes.