- Title: JAPAN: Cherry blossoms in Tokyo a bright spot amid nuclear fears
- Date: 29th March 2011
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 42-YEAR-OLD CAMERAMAN, RYUICHI ODA, SAYING: "In a sense, the flower represents Japan, and I think the Japanese see the cherry blossoms as symbolising the need to go back to basics in life." MORE OF PEOPLE AT THE PARK MORE OF CHERRY BLOSSOMS MORE OF CHERRY BLOSSOM BRANCHES
- Embargoed: 13th April 2011 13:00
- Location: Japan, Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes,Environment / Natural World
- Reuters ID: LVABQUD4BOY4K8BWI3KEXBSX735K
- Story Text: Tokyo's cherry blossom trees bloomed on Monday (March 28), as officially declared by Japan's Meteorological Agency.
The government ministry, also in charge of measuring and recording earthquakes and tsunamis, takes its reading of the season from an official 'someiyoshino' cherry blossom tree in Yasukuni Shrine.
The announcement usually kicks off a two-week frenzy of festivities under the blossoms.
But this year is more somber. The blossoms not only arrived six days later than usual, but also amid a nuclear crisis that has cast a shadow amongst residents already concerned about their brethren in the northeast, stricken by the double disaster of the earthquake and tsunami of March 11.
The latest death toll from the quake and tsunami stands at 10,804, with 16,244 still missing. About a quarter of a million people are living in shelters.
In Tokyo, Nuclear fears spiked last week as above-safety level radiation was detected in the city's water, and authorities warned parents to refrain from giving it to infants.
But on Monday Tokyo residents found some solace in the arrival of spring.
Tokyo resident Mitsue Yamazaki took a stroll in the park near the Imperial palace where some cherry blossoms were already in bloom.
"There is no point in being depressed all the time, so I think we should all just take a walk outside as it cheers you up," said the 68-year-old Yamazaki.
Others contemplated cancelling their cherry blossom events for fear of being seen as insensitive towards the quake and tsunami survivors struggling to recover, but decided that it was better to celebrate the happiness of the present.
"We had been planning this for the past three months and we hesitated initially to follow through, but I wanted to capture my daughter's smile and wanted to make great memories," said Chieko Komuro, a 45 year-old mother who came with her children to be photographed under the cherry blossoms.
"In a sense, the flower represents Japan, and I think the Japanese see the cherry blossoms as symbolising the need to go back to basics in life," added Ryuichi Oda, the 42 year-old photographer at a cherry blossoms event.
The cherry blossoms are usually in full bloom, about one week after the official announcement.
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