sakura
Photo: Ryoji Iwata/Unsplash

Tokyo parks are banning cherry blossom picnics this year

Some sections of popular parks like Yoyogi and Hibiya will be cordoned off throughout the sakura season

Emma Steen
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Emma Steen
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Following the latest state of emergency extension in Tokyo, the metropolitan government has announced that some of the city parks will be restricted during the cherry blossom season to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This time of year usually sees large crowds of people unfurling picnic mats under sakura trees for hanami (flower viewing) picnics. But, in addition to the cancellation of major cherry blossom festivals like the ones at Chidorigafuchi Moat and Sumida Park, the government is now urging the public not to hold gatherings this spring. 

Some parks and gardens have been completely closed since the beginning of the state of emergency – such as Shinjuku Gyoen, Hamarikyu Garden and Rikugien – and they will continue to stay shut until the declaration is lifted. Metropolitan parks that are currently open will be restricted to prevent visitors from picnicking in them.

Over the weekend, Ueno Park, a popular place to hold hanami parties, began placing barricades around the sakura trees so that visitors wouldn’t be able to gather under them. Other parks that will adopt similar restrictions include Inokashira Park, Hibiya Park, Shakujii Park and Yoyogi Park, where lanes will be set up so that visitors can only walk in one direction to view the blooming flowers, as opposed to freely wandering the grounds or picnicking under the pink canopies as usual.

Though these venues will still be open for you to stroll in and admire the cherry blossoms, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike maintains that people should continue to avoid non-essential outings as much as possible. 

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