Hanami: Japan casts off a year of crisis as cherries bloom

Spring has begun in Japan with the blooming of the countrys beloved cherry trees, with revelers eager to use the occasion as a way to break from a year marked by crisis and disaster.

Last year, the mood was muted and many cherry celebrations were cancelled after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami which killed nearly 19,000 people. The disaster also set off a nuclear crisis.

At Tokyos Ueno Park, where 1,200 cherry trees make it one of the capitals most popular cherry-viewing spots, signs were erected encouraging visitors to show “self-restraint” out of respect. The threat of power cuts also dampened spirits.

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