Japan's cherry blossom blooms in early spring

The age-old tradition of "hanami" typically attracts throngs of people to parks to sit under cherry trees for picnics, singing, and drinking.

Young and old people wearing masks strolled around the perimeter of the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo, taking pictures and posing for selfies among the trees.

"Many people came here today to see cherry blossoms because the news reported yesterday that they'd be in full bloom," said Mieko Ozawa, a Tokyo resident in her 70s.

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

"Since it's outside, I think it's fine as long as it doesn't get overcrowded," said a 73-year Tokyo resident Hideo Mizutani. "Of course we need to be more careful."