The cherry blossom trees are in full bloom, but there’s no one around to enjoy them. 

Prefectural governments in a number of areas around Japan called on people to refrain from going out this past weekend in an effort to help flatten the curve of the local coronavirus outbreak.

In Tokyo, Governor Koike held a press conference to request people avoid non-urgent, non-essential travel on Saturday and Sunday, which happened to coincide with the time when the area’s cherry blossoms were expected to hit full bloom.

In order to avoid a repeat of the hanami parties that were spotted the weekend prior to her announcement, a number of popular sakura sites were closed off to the public, including Ueno Park, which is known for attracting millions of visitors during the cherry blossom viewing season.

So how well have people been heeding Koike’s advice to stay indoors? Our reporter P.K. Sanjun was near Ueno Park for work on Monday morning, and he stopped by to see if the hanami parties and cherry blossom viewing visitors were still as abundant as they usually are at this time of year.

The entrance to the park is usually bustling with visitors, even on a weekday morning, but on 30 March, the area was deserted.

The drop in international tourists due to travel restrictions placed on citizens by governments abroad has played a role in the drastic decrease in visitors to the park. However, Ueno Park is popular with locals both inside and outside of Tokyo, so it was incredibly unusual for P.K. to see it this quiet. However, decreasing visitor numbers is something that the park is aiming for, with paths and entrances closed off to the public.

Signs alert visitors to the fact that parts of the park have been closed to stop hanami cherry blossom viewing parties in order to help curb the coronavirus outbreak.

Large areas of the park are usually filled with people on mats under the blossoming trees but on Monday, the prime cherry blossom viewing spots were totally devoid of people.

The cherry blossom trees around the park are at full bloom right now as well, creating swirling carpets of pink with their falling petals.

▼ The stalls around the park are usually open for business during hanami season.

The Starbucks in the park was closed, as the coffeehouse chain made the decision to close all their branches in the capital over the weekend.

▼ Ueno Zoo is temporarily closed for an indefinite period as a coronavirus countermeasure.

As he walked through the park to work, P.K. saw a few individuals walking around the area, much like himself, but he couldn’t find more than two people together on the grounds.

After his walk through the park, P.K. felt relieved to see it looking the emptiest he’s ever seen it in all his life. It appears that Koike’s request has not fallen on deaf ears, and with the help of parks and big businesses like Shibuya 109 shutting their doors temporarily to help with restrictions, here’s hoping these measures will go some way towards staving off the outbreak, and a possible citywide lockdown.

Photos © SoraNews24
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