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Tokugawa Yoshimune planted areas of cherry blossom trees to encourage this.
It was developed in the mid- to late-19th century at the end of the Edo period and the beginning of the Meiji period.
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.
The eighth-century chronicle Nihon Shoki (日本書紀) records hanami festivals being held as early as the third century AD.
Most Japanese schools and public buildings have cherry blossom trees outside of them.
"Hanami" is the centuries-old practice of drinking under a blooming sakura or ume tree.