Bird-like snow pattern appears on Mt. Fuji, heralding spring

A bird-shaped snow pattern has appeared near the top of Japan's iconic Mount Fuji.

The nation's highest mountain straddles Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures.

Snow on the slopes facing Yamanashi begins to melt from spring to early summer, with the remaining snow forming a bird-like pattern.

The sight is traditionally thought to herald the start of the rice-planting season for local areas.

The government of Fujiyoshida City in Yamanashi Prefecture announced on Thursday morning that the pattern had appeared.

City officials say the mark emerged six days earlier than last year, and about two weeks earlier than usual.