People flock to Japan in the spring in hopes of catching the cherry blossom season, which, in full bloom, lasts only about a week. This usually happens in April (although a bit earlier or later depending on the region and climate of the year). But never has there been a widespread cherry blossom season in the fall – until now.
Most likely because of Japan's recent two typhoons followed by warm weather, people have spotted cherry blossoms from "Kyushu, in western Japan, to Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands," according to Smithsonian.
Hiroyuki Wada of the Flower Association of Japan tells NHK that the Yoshino cherry tree, which puts on a particularly lovely display of blossoms, buds in the summer, but hormones in the trees’ leaves stop the buds from opening until spring. This year, however, typhoons whipped the leaves from the cherry blossom trees, or otherwise exposed the trees to salt that caused their leaves to wither. The lack of hormones to keep the buds in check, coupled with warm temperatures that followed the storms, prompted the buds to blossom.
“This has happened in the past,” Wada tells NHK, “but I don’t remember seeing anything on this scale.”
Over the last 150 years, the season for cherry blossoms has been slowly moving its start time to an earlier date. "In Kyoto in 1850, for instance, the average bloom date was April 17. Today, the average date is around April 6." Unless, that is, it's an autumn blossom we're talking about.