Not around for this year's highly anticipated spring cherry blossom season? No worries. If you happen to be in Tokyo right now, you'll be glad to know that there are some early bloomers already flowering in the city. The sprawling Shinjuku Gyoen is home to a select number of cold-weather sakura trees, which are already in peak bloom. Don't confuse these flowers with the numerous plum blossoms which are also present at the park.
If you're hoping to snap some photos, these fleeting flowers don't wait for anyone, so best head over as soon as possible. On our most recent visit (February 20), some petals are already starting to fall.
Kawazusakura is one species of winter-flowering cherry blossoms, which usually bloom from late February to early March. However, with this year's unusually warm winter, these blossoms started appearing at the end of January and are reaching full bloom in February. You can identify these blossoms by their vivid colour: they are a darker pink than other cherry blossoms.
The second early-blooming sakura you'll spot at the park is the lighter-pink species known as kanzakura. You'll find them on some large trees around the park and they are very photogenic as well. These flowers typically bloom from late February to early March but are appearing earlier than usual this year due to the weather. Global warming is real, people.
In the meantime, Tokyo has also started offering sakura food and drinks. So for a full experience, treat yourself to these cherry blossom desserts after your trip to Shinjuku Gyoen.