Surprise snowfall in Japan transformed springtime hanami into a winter wonderland on the weekend.

As the first month of spring comes to a close, the weather took an unseasonable turn on the weekend, with snow falling in Japan’s Kanto region, which encompasses Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa prefectures.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, a low pressure front passed through the area on the morning of 29 March, turning rain to snow in the region from dawn until just after midday. More than one centimetre of snow fell — something that hasn’t been observed in the city centre for 32 years.

At this time of year, a lot of the country’s cherry blossoms are currently in or nearing full bloom, which made for some stunning white-and-pink-tinged landscapes as the snowflakes fell.

Photos and videos from the day revealed some gorgeous scenes, made even more poignant in the freezing snow as areas of Tokyo were unusually deserted. The governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, asked everyone to stay indoors on the weekend to help flatten the curve of the country’s growing coronavirus outbreak.

Meguro River is normally one of the city’s busiest hanami cherry blossom viewing spots, but the streets were quiet here as the snow fell.

Tokyo Institute of Technology was equally deserted.

▼ The walk along Nogawa River near Jindaiji in Tokyo’s Chofu looked like a movie set.

Chidorigafuchi, the moat around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, is a popular sakura viewing spot that’s usually filled with boats at this time of year.

Videos showed one of the most stunning visual effects to come from hanami cherry blossom viewing in the snow, as the snowflakes looked just like falling sakura petals.

▼ Slow-motion videos highlighted just how large the snowflakes were.

The blossoms looked equally as stunning further out from Tokyo, at Kezoji Park in Gunma Prefecture

▼ And at Matsumoto Castle in Nagano Prefecture as well.

Back in Tokyo, the trains kept running as usual in spite of the snow, with the Rinkai Line pictured below.

▼ The Musashino Line also ferried passengers through the snow.

▼ On the Inokashira Line, the passing world looked like a scene from an anime movie.

The late March snowfall came a day after temperatures reached a balmy 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) in Tokyo. While the dramatic change in temperature created some beautiful scenes in and around the city, it was also a powerful motivator for many to stay home, making it easy for people to heed the government’s request to refrain from large hanami gatherings and Koike’s call for people to avoid non-essential outings.

Here’s hoping people will be able to stay indoors without any prompting from the weather in future, as Japan now enters a critical phase in containing the outbreak, which has already claimed the lives of dozens in Japan, including Japanese comedian Ken Shimura.

Sources: Twitter/#雪桜 
Featured image: Twitter/@matomo9326
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