Japan cherry blossom season wilted by the coronavirus pandemic

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The people of Japan and millions of tourists should now be enjoying the start of the cherry blossom viewing, or hanami, season.

It’s an extremely important time of year for the country, both economically and culturally.

Traditionally friends and family get together, and for a new generation it’s a perfect Instagram opportunity.

But this year the coronavirus pandemic means events have been cancelled and foreign visitors are staying away.

Katsuhiro Miyamoto from Kansai University highlighted the financial importance of hanami: “Japan’s cherry blossom season has very big economic effects every year”.

He estimated that almost 8.5m tourists visited the country during the cherry blossom season between March and May last year, bringing in some 650 billion yen ($6bn; £5.2bn).

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