Your Usual Hanami Spring Traditions Might Change Because of the Threat of Coronavirus
Some events are making sure you stay healthy and safe.
Cherry blossom season finally began last March 14 when cherry blossoms started blooming in Tokyo. However, due to the spread of the Coronavirus, the call for self-isolation has been intensified which is affecting hanami (cherry blossom viewing) traditions. Picnic parties in parks and river beds in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture are highly discouraged, and various cherry blossom-related events have been cancelled.
Since it is practically impossible to enjoy cherry blossoms the usual way, hanami spots without crowds and hanami events implementing infection prevention and control measures are gaining popularity in Japan.
View hanami from a ski lift.
Riding the pair parallel lift feels like flying over the rows of cherry blossoms.
Around 2,500 cherry blossoms bloom during spring at Lake Sagami Pleasure Forest in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa. The pair parallel lift in the park will make you feel like you are flying above the sea of cherry blossoms. The park reopened last March 7. According to the person in charge, they are regularly disinfecting the park with alcohol. They are also strongly implementing infection prevention measures by setting up disinfectants in shops and restaurants.
Rent a cruiser and enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms along Meguro River
Ohanami CHANDON Cruise in the Meguro River.
In Meguro River, one of Tokyo’s most famous cherry blossom spots, an open deck cruiser rental called Meguro River Ohanami CHANDON Cruise started its operation last March 20. Cruise along the river which boasts 800 gorgeous cherry blossom trees over 4 kilometers for 90 minutes. Enjoy your cruise with sparkling wine and light snacks included in your rental plan. The cruise rental costs ¥13,000 on weekdays and ¥16,000 on weekends (both prices are on a per person basis).
Cherry blossoms on both banks of Meguro River (illumination is cancelled this year).
Due to the spread of the Coronavirus infection, sharing rides with other guests is strictly prohibited this year. However, renting the cruiser is allowed for groups of 4 people and above, which is less than last year’s rule of 7 people and above. This certain action was done to prevent infection. Meals in this special plan were also changed from one-plate dishes to finger food options. Other precautionary measures such as disinfecting the cruiser with alcohol is also done regularly.
“We have prepared a special plan for this year so guests can still enjoy the hanami season in small groups. We hope that everyone will use this opportunity to bond with their family or to deepen friendships among one another,” says the Anniversary-Cruise representative.
Enjoy cherry blossoms and exquisite cuisine in a Japanese garden
Japanese garden at Hotel New Otani.
A vast Japanese garden with 400 years of history spreads out in the grounds of Hotel New Otani in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. It once belonged to Kiyomasa Kato before it became the villa of the Ii family, and later on became the residence of the Fushiminomiya family. This garden has 58 cherry blossom trees in all 19 types that bloom at different times in a year. You may see these breathtaking cherry blossoms even if you don’t stay at the hotel. The garden is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is expected to have a few visitors this year so you can leisurely walk around and look at them.
Hotel New Otani.
Moreover, you can also view the cherry blossoms while dining at Sekishin-tei or Seisen-tei within the Japanese garden or the garden lounge. Aside from Sekishin-tei, other restaurants and bars in the hotel offer cherry blossom themed menus that you may enjoy to experience the season of spring not only by looking but also by tasting its rich and refreshing flavor.
The hotel spokesperson says they hope for guests to enjoy a relaxing hanami experience without the worry of being in crowds within the serenity of a hotel that is isolated from the daily hustle and bustle of the city.
Professional tour guides and flower experts hold cherry blossom tours in taxis
Nihon Kotsu Hanami Taxi.
Nihon Kotsu and Daiichi Engei teamed up this year to start the Hanami Taxi 2020. This taxi tour service allows passengers to see famous cherry blossom viewing spots in Tokyo from March 20 to April 10. Through this tour, you can enjoy the sight of cherry blossoms without the hassle of mingling with crowds or reserving spaces. Taxi drivers are qualified tour guides who can give you commentary during the tour supervised by Daiichi Engei. The 2-hour tour that starts from Tokyo Station, Ueno Station, or Shinagawa Station costs ¥10,280 (per cab). Up to 30 taxi cabs will be used for this tour plan to accommodate more passengers.
Catch a glimpse of the cherry blossoms from the taxi window.
Sanwa Kotsu in Yokohama started their hanami taxi on March 15. This 2-hour tour takes you around Minatomirai, Motomachi Park, Sankeien Garden, and others for ¥9,400 (Yokohama tour). Western Tokyo and Saitama area tours are also available with departure points that can be set according to the passenger. Infection prevention measures are strictly being followed like proper ventilation and air conditioning to intake outside air.
Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Tokyo Walker™ (20 March 2020)