A somber ‘hanami’ this year in Tokyo as cherry trees begin to blossom

The Japan Meteorological Agency said Monday that Tokyo’s cherry trees will enter full bloom within a week. But the capital’s annual blossom-viewing parties, or "hanami," will be much quieter this year because festivals here and elsewhere are being called off in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Organizers say they felt it was appropriate to refrain from any kind of festivities when so many lives were lost, but added that the decisions were also based on efforts to reduce the use of electricity. Some also cited security concerns.

"It was a disaster that’s beyond imagination, so we felt we should express our condolences," said Kazumi Indei of the Chiyoda-ku Tourist Association, which organizes the cherry tree festival in Chidorigafuchi. The group has canceled its annual festival, including the evening cherry tree illumination.

Read the rest of the story: Tokyo faces somber ‘hanami’ this year.

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