While Japan is known for preserving ancient customs, climate change poses a threat to some of its cultural legacies. The clearest sign of change due to warming temperatures, despite the recent snow flurries in Tokyo, is in cherry blossom viewing, or hanami, a tradition stretching back centuries.
March 14 marked the earliest ever start of the flowers opening in Tokyo, twelve days before average. Kyoto is witnessing sakura at dates not often seen in 1,200 years of record keeping. This timing may do more than spoil tourists' travel plans; it can also have an economic impact on local communities holding cherry blossom festivals.