With cherry blossom season just kicking off in Japan, this would normally be a time where people flock to flower-viewing parties known as “hanami.”
But as authorities discourage large public viewings amid fears over the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, one website has come up with a creative solution.
They want everyone to experience Japan’s most beloved sakura spots virtually.
Weather News, which follows the cherry blossom trail as the flowers start blooming from Japan’s southwest until gradually making their way north, has uploaded dozens of free “hanami VR” videos.
These give those stuck inside a chance to experience everywhere from Kyoto’s Arashiyama neighborhood and Onshi park in Tokyo’s Ueno neighborhood to Osaka castle park and the moat of the Imperial palace in Tokyo from the safety of their own homes.
Cherry blossoms or “sakura” are celebrated in Japanese literature and art. As they bloom briefly, in Japan, they’re viewed as a metaphor for the ephemeral but beautiful things in life.
You can watch the video here.