Springtime in Japan but COVID-19 limits festivities for cherry blossom fans

An early spring in Japan is drawing cherry blossom fans to Tokyo’s parks, but the government has urged people to limit traditional festivities to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 infections.

The flowers known as “sakura” were in full bloom at the end of March, almost two weeks earlier than usual. The tradition of “hanami” attracts throngs of people to parks to sit under cherry trees for picnics, singing and drinking.

People wearing masks strolled around the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo, taking pictures and posing for selfies among the trees.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike stopped short of telling people not to go out to enjoy the flowers but asked that they keep hanami activities to “just looking.”

Hideo Mizutani, 73, shared, “Since it’s outside, I think it’s fine as long as it doesn’t get overcrowded.”

Many parks in the capital region are prohibiting hanami, with some erecting temporary fences to keep people from gathering near the trees.

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