The Kawazu-Zakura cherry blossoms (photo taken Feb 15 by Kyodo News)

If you’re sick of winter and ready for spring, head to Shizuoka’s Kawazu City, the host of one of Japan’s earliest cherry blossom festivals. The Kawazu-zakura cherry blossoms are known for blossoming early, but this year a warm winter has triggered the earliest bloom in the past 15 years, said city officials.

photo courtesy Sankei Photo

According to the official website, the Kawazu-zakura were in full-bloom starting February 15th, and will be viewable through early March.

Roughly 8000 cherry blossom trees line the Kawazu river. From Tokyo it’s about 2 hours and 40 min on the Odoriko train. Driving will take you roughly the same amount of time.

Below are some photos by people who visited recently:

photo by mika05011972

The miniature steam locomotive and romance car (pictured) take visitors through a tunnel of cherry blossoms, and is always a popular attraction. The conductor obviously has the best job ever.

photo by irodori

If you’re curious about other parts of Japan with more typical blossoming schedules, this map that the Mainichi put together shows the sakura zensen (cherry blossom front). With late-March blossoming in much of the Kanto region it looks like early April will be peak-viewing times.