Sat, October 16, 2021

in-focus

Viewing spots provide ways to enjoy Japan's sakura


TOKYO - The second cherry blossom season in the coronavirus era has arrived. Last year, many popular venues for viewing the colorful petals simply barred visitors. However, greater efforts are being made in 2021 to accommodate them.

Popular spots are getting creative about finding ways for people to enjoy viewing sakura, from establishing walking routes to drone broadcasts, in a bid to avoid another surge of infections while allowing all to enjoy the splendor of one of Japan's quintessential trees.

"I was able to enjoy the cherry blossoms without worrying about the distance between me and other people," a visitor to Ueno Park in Taito Ward, Tokyo, said delightedly on Saturday as he walked past rows of cherry trees along a path.

Ueno Park last year temporarily closed the main walking thoroughfare that is lined with cherry trees.

This year, the park banned entry in certain areas and prohibited parties. However, the main passage is open, although it is divided in the center by traffic cones as a means for people to stroll in opposite directions while admiring the blossoms. The number of security guards has been increased, and patrols are being conducted to make sure rules are followed.

Inokashira Park, which straddles the cities of Musashino and Mitaka in Tokyo, has security guards patrolling the grounds to prevent nighttime sakura viewing.

"Since the coronavirus outbreak is lingering, we've taken measures this year to avoid infections in order to open the park for people to relax there," a Tokyo metropolitan government official said. "However, we're concerned that there could be a surge of cases, so we'd like to prevent crowding."

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is one of the most famous places for viewing sakura in Tokyo, as it has about 1,000 cherry trees on its grounds.

The garden was closed during sakura season last year, but reopened Tuesday because Tokyo's state of emergency ended.

However, restrictions apply. Until April 25, entrance is only allowed by advance reservation. Groups of four or fewer people or a family living together are allowed to spread out picnic sheets and eat and drink while viewing the cherry blossoms.

Meanwhile, various entities will broadcast cherry blossoms online.

Drone Entertainment, a Chiba-based company that produces videos using drones, plans on March 27 to use drones to livestream cherry blossoms on YouTube. The company is also broadcasting in 4K cherry blossoms shot last year in about 50 locations across the country.

"We'll be able to show the beauty of Japanese cherry blossoms to people around the world," a spokesperson for the company said.

"One of the service's features is that viewers can see the blossoms from the perspective of birds and flying insects above the trees as well as between them. I hope people will enjoy the program from the safety of their homes together with their families."

The Chiyoda City Tourism Association in Tokyo has canceled its annual Chiyoda Cherry Blossom Festival. Instead, the association is livestreaming cherry blossoms along Chidorigafuchi Green Way on its website for everyone to enjoy from the comfort and safety of their homes.

Published : March 26, 2021

By : Syndication Washington Post, Japan News