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Thousands flock to Alishan for Cherry Blossom Festival

Taiwan's only large-scale sakura grove drew more than 20,000 spectators yesterday, the first weekend day of the annual Alishan Cherry Blossom Festival.

As of 5 p.m., 20,442 tourists had flocked to Alishan, according to the Chiayi Forest District Office (嘉義林區管理處). The tourist volume increased from 11,432 on March 15, the first day of the festival and 13,104 on March 16, and is expected to keep rising over the weekend, the office pointed out.

Alishan is Taiwan's only large-scale grove for cherry blossom cultivars, said the office's Forestry Bureau (林務局).

It is home to more than 19,000 cherry trees, including at least 18,000 of the Yoshino hybrid.

Some of these trees date back to the Japanese colonial period, the Forestry Bureau said yesterday. The oldest known tree was imported as a sapling from Japan in 1903.

Late March every year, the trees break into white, fragrant blossoms that draw tens of thousands of tourists to the Alishan mountain tops.

The Forestry Bureau said that now's the best time to enjoy the Yoshino in full blossom: The Sun is out at last, after a long spell of light rain.

In upcoming weeks, Alishan's cherry blossoms will be joined by magnolia, foxglove, and wisteria.

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A cherry blossom tree is shown on the first weekend day of the 2012 Alishan Cherry Blossom Festival, yesterday. The Forestry Bureau said that now's the best time to enjoy the Yoshino in full blossom: The Sun is out at last, after a long spell of light rain. The sakura festival runs through April 15. (CNA)

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