The after-work revelries are under way across Japan, with the nation noisily celebrating the annual arrival of the cherry blossoms with mobile karaoke machines and crates of beer. Experts warn, however, that the party could be drawing to a close.
Already threatened by rising temperatures and pollution in cities that have combined to reduce the number of flowers, the iconic cherry blossoms are also falling victim to time.
Planted in huge numbers in the decades after air raids devastated large parts of Tokyo and other cities, cherry trees usually live about 60 years before they fall prey to disease or they become too large for their roots.
A survey conducted in 2013 by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government showed that 44,000 cherry trees dot the city. But an increasing number are ailing and need to be cut down, meaning that entire groves of trees that add a dash of pink to the unrelenting grey of Japan's cities may disappear.
"Cherry trees usually live about 60 years so the ones we have in Tokyo are getting too big, are contracting diseases and are shedding branches," Kiroyuki Wada, a spokesman for the Japan Tree Doctors' Association, told The Telegraph.
"They need to be replaced and the Tokyo city government has tried to do that, but they have met resistance from local residents."
The local authority has attempted to carry out replacement programmes in several parts of the city, targeting trees that have raised pavements with their roots or have lost branches, but those plans have on occasions been thwarted.
fall prey to：深受…之害