Hanami cherry blossom viewing season begins in Japan
soranews24.com -- Mar 23
Questions about complacency are being raised as people gather at popular sakura spots in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

As Japan shrugs off the cold days of winter, people around the country start thinking about the hanami cherry blossom viewing season, that long-awaited time of year when people gather together under the sakura trees to enjoy parties with friends and work colleagues while getting drunk on beers and the beauty of the blossoms

This year, however, things feel different as Japan — like many other countries around the world right now — struggles to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Unlike a number of countries elsewhere, however, Japan is taking a less drastic approach to containment, choosing to keep things running more or less as usual, with a few exceptions like: restricting arrivals from certain countries; asking schools, large tourist sites and events to close; making requests for foreign travellers to self-quarantine for 14 days; and advising locals to stay away from crowded, poorly ventilated areas.

Japan’s lenient stance may seem surprising, but it’s in response to the relatively slow rise of cases being recorded in Japan compared to the rest of the world (Japan is the line second from the bottom, in red). Pundits from overseas, however, are concerned that the low numbers being reported are due to the low number of people actually being tested for the virus.

Now that the cherry blossoms have started blooming in Tokyo, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is asking people to exercise self-restraint when it comes to holding sakura parties in municipally managed parks and riversides during hanami season.

With no penalties in place to ensure people are exercising this self-restraint, however, the sunny springtime weather and the call of the blossoms has been strong in some parts of the country, and photos from the weekend show a lot of people out and about ignoring signs asking people to refrain from hanami gatherings.

News source: soranews24.com
Apr 05
Far fewer people were on the streets of shopping areas in Tokyo and other cities in Japan on Saturday, after authorities issued stay-at-home requests in the wake of the rapid spread of the new coronavirus. (Japan Today)
Apr 05
There has been much talk in Japan recently about the imminent danger posed by an “overshoot,” a word used with no Japanese translation, little context and an apparent disregard for the English language, baffling English and Japanese speakers alike. (Japan Times)
Apr 05
A cluster of 7 infections of the novel coronavirus has been traced to persons who were present at a hostess club in Gifu City last month, the city government has revealed, reports the Asahi Shimbun (Apr. 3). (tokyoreporter.com)
Apr 05
The Japanese government will support a drive to boost production of the flu drug Avigan as a treatment for the novel coronavirus, with the aim of increasing stockpiles to triple the current amount, Nikkei has learned. (Nikkei)
Apr 04
Japan's Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and the main governing Liberal Democratic Party have agreed to give roughly 2,800 dollars to households whose income has fallen to a certain level due to the coronavirus outbreak. (NHK)
Apr 04
The volume of internet data used in Japan jumped 40% in roughly a month, industry figures show, prompting concerns about overwhelming the network. (Nikkei)
Apr 04
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to start moving coronavirus patients with mild or no symptoms out of hospitals and into hotel rooms as early as next week. It aims at vacating hospital beds for a possible surge of more serious cases. (NHK)
Apr 04
The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo issued a warning to American citizens Friday that said those with plans to return should do so now or risk being stuck here for an “indefinite period.” (Japan Times)
Apr 03
Many major cities around the globe have implemented lockdowns, but Japan’s big cities such as Tokyo and Osaka have not yet followed suit. Because of that, a sense of crisis about the coronavirus pandemic among the public seems relatively low. (Japan Times)
Apr 03
The number of new daily coronavirus cases reported in Japan on Thursday stood at 180 as of 6:30 p.m. This number includes a record 97 new cases in Tokyo. (NHK)