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Helsinki's cherry trees bloom ahead of hanami

Cherry blossoms are in bloom at Helsinki's Cherry Tree Park in the eastern suburb of Roihuvuori. On Saturday the park will host the Japanese "hanami" celebration.

With hundreds of cherry trees in spring flower, the pink-hued park is a centre for family picnics in the backdrop of Japanese-themed dance performances, origami and tea ceremonies.

The Japanese term "hanami" means "flower viewing". The tradition is ancient, dating back centuries. The festival is considered one of modern-day Japan’s most important celebrations.

The Japanese garden is home to some 250 cherry trees and represents the country’s single largest cherry tree orchard.

The festival takes place when the trees are in bloom, so the date varies from year to year. The trees were planted in 2007 with sponsorship from Helsinki’s Japanese community.

Japan gifts new trees

Locals have marked the cherry tree festival since the first observance on Mother’s Day in 2008. Since then, the pink-hued spectacle has expanded to include thousands.

On Thursday, Japan gifted five new cherry trees to Finland to mark the country's centenary. Parliamentary Speaker Paula Risikko, Japanese ambassador Jota Yamamoto, and Helsinki mayor Jan Vapaavuori helped plant the saplings in the gardens in front of the Little Parliament building in Helsinki.

Video footage by Pekka Tynell and Jetro Kokko.

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