Tokyo parks are banning cherry blossom picnics this year

For the second year in a row, Tokyo's popular Ueno Park is asking visitors not to hold parties with picnic sheets when celebrating cherry blossom season. The pretty pink blossoms were in full bloom on Tuesday (March 23) in the capital, a time that usually sees groups of friends or colleagues sitting on picnic mats under sakura trees for hanami (flower viewing) parties. According to the Japan Times, Ueno Park saw roughly 3 million visitors during the cherry blossom season each year before the pandemic. Video filmed on Wednesday shows large crowds but dividers and signs in place. To reduce the new coronavirus spread, authorities put in place barricades around sakura trees so that visitors are not able to gather under them. Instead they are encouraging people to enjoy cherry blossoms while walking in a single direction and to maintain social distancing. Other local governments in Japan are also asking residents not to hold cherry blossom-viewing parties, even though the country’s coronavirus state of emergency was lifted on Monday (March 22).