The flowers, which experience a "peak bloom" that only lasts a few days, have been revered in Japan for more than a thousand years.
Crowds celebrate with viewing parties, flocking to the most popular locations to take photos and have picnics underneath the branches.
But this year, cherry blossom season has come and gone in the blink of an eye, in one of the earliest blooms on record -- and scientists warn it's a symptom of the larger climate crisis threatening ecosystems everywhere.
In the central city of Kyoto, cherry blossoms peaked on March 26, the earliest in more than 1,200 years, Aono said.
And in the capital Tokyo, cherry blossoms reached full bloom on March 22, the second-earliest date on record.
There are two sources of increased heat, which is the main factor making the flowers bloom earlier: urbanization and climate change.
"Agriculture now is more like a gamble, because climate change is randomizing the things happening in our ecological systems. »