Japan's cherry blossom or "hanami" festival has come early this year. CNN reported that The Japan Meteorological Agency announced the beginning of cherry blossom season this past weekend.

The Daily Yomiuiri reported reported that on the day that Somei Yoshino cherry blossoms emerged 10 days earlier than average and 15 days earlier than last year.

"Staff confirmed that more than four flowers were blooming on an index tree designated by the agency at the shrine in the morning. The agency said the flowers should be in full bloom around next weekend. People admire cherry blossoms at Yasukuni Shrine in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Saturday morning," reported The Daily Yomiuri.

Hanami is one of the most important Japanese customs and is held all over Japan. Tokyo has pink, blooms all over the city bathing the metropolis in soft petals.

The festival dates back to more than a thousand years ago when aristocrats viewed the blossoms and wrote poetry, reported gojapan.com.

Now, cherry blossom or "sakura" viewing occurs with drinking and eating and big parties throughout the country. Many people have big picnics underneath the trees and have BBQs.

"The most popular kind of Japanese cherry (sakura) tree which can be found everywhere in Japan is somei-yoshino (Yedoensis). Sakura trees bloom at different times throughout Japan, and the blooming period of somei-yoshino is usually short," reports gojapan.com.

Most cherry blossom festivals occur between March to May though other regions have them in January, February and June, based on location. The festival dates occur from year to year differently based on cherry blossom forecasts.

"Gorgeous flowers are main attractions of the festivals, but a variety of traditional Japanese performing arts presented in many festivals can't be missed. Joining tea ceremonies held under cherry trees can be a memorable experience as well," reports goJapan.com.

There are a number of notable places all over Japan to see the stunning blossoms. The town of Hirosaki is one of the most notable and famous for its stunning cherry blossoms. Yoshino-yama in the Nara prefecture has over 30,000 cherry tress on the mountain and in Tokyo Ueno Park has 1,200 cherry trees to view in full bloom.