Cherry blossoms bloom, heralding spring

The National Cherry Blossom Festival opens this Sunday in D.C.

Cherry blossom season has officially begun in Japan, with the full bloom to arrive this weekend amid rising temperatures.

The cherry blossom is widely celebrated in Japanese literature, poetry and art. According to the Library of Congress, the cherry blossom carries special meaning to the Japanese as the flower blooms briefly, the blossoms are often seen as a metaphor for the ephemeral beauty of living. At the same time, flower-viewing is an old and ongoing tradition in Japan.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival opens this Sunday in Washington, D.C.

The festival celebrates the March 27, 1912, gift of Japanese cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City to the city of Washington, D.C.

Ozaki donated the trees to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan, and also to celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations, according to the National Cherry Blossom Festival's website.

The blossoms were originally thought to peak March 7 but due to cold temperatures in February and then snowfall in March, that date has been pushed back. As of Friday, the National Park Service is predicting the prime blossoming dates in Washington, D.C., are March 27 to March 31.

Check the official site for updates.