Petal power beats virus fears
Warnings from officials over the coronavirus did little to stop Japanese from celebrating as cherry trees exploded into bloom.
Over a warm long weekend in Tokyo, people packed into traditional blossom hot spots, many not even wearing face masks.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike admitted that taking cherry blossom parties away from the Japanese was like "taking hugs away from Italians", but urged people to avoid gathering to drink and snack under the trees.
"I come here every year.
I feel bad if I miss it," Mr Etsuo Fujisawa, a 57-year-old dental technician, told AFP as he walked through the city's Ueno Park, where 800 cherry trees are in full bloom.