Rare snow in Tokyo blankets shrines, cancels flights

A couple hold their umbrellas as snow falls near the Tokyo Imperial Palace on January 6, 2022. Behrouz MEHRI / AFP

  • The snow has caused the cancellation of nearly 120 domestic flights at Haneda Airport.
  • The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a heavy snow warning for the Tokyo area for the first time since 2018.
  • Some commuter trains in Tokyo have been delayed due to heavy snowfall.

Snow blanketed Tokyo on Thursday as hours of rain forced the cancellation of more than 100 domestic flights and the weather agency issued the city’s first heavy snow warning in four years.

Residents were holding umbrellas and pushing their bikes as large snowflakes began to set in, with the Japan Meteorological Agency saying as much as 10 centimeters (four inches) could fall in a 12-hour period.

The JMA has issued a heavy snow alert for the Tokyo area for the first time since 2018, warning of a potential traffic disruption.

The snow has caused the cancellation of 66 domestic flights departing and 53 arriving at the main airport in the Japanese capital, Haneda, an airport official told AFP, but no international flights have has been cancelled.

Some commuter trains in Tokyo have been delayed due to heavy snowfall, rail operator JR East said on its website.

On Twitter, the meteorological agency warned residents that “caution is required in the event of heavy snowfall” in central Tokyo.

“Heavy snow warnings are being issued … Affected areas could be extended. Please check the latest weather and road information! “

At Sensoji Temple in central Tokyo, a popular tourist destination, some visitors dressed in a traditional kimono and wooden “geta” sandals with split-toe socks walked past the monument’s red columns and golden bells as snowflakes were falling.

The scene was more prosaic for commuters stuck in the rare weather event in the Ginza shopping and business district.

“It’s quite unusual that it snows so much in Tokyo in January,” Keiichi Masuda, 37, a worker from Tokyo, said as he rushed home.

“I have to be careful not to slip while walking.”

But others in the area were taking time to soak up the unusual snowfall, including Tokyo resident Shigeko Nagahama, 73, taking photos of the iconic Kabukiza Theater.

She stood alongside other people enjoying the snow settling on the traditional architecture of the building that hosts kabuki performances.

“It’s a wonderful sight. The snow gives it a picturesque aura, I think,” she said.

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