Snow hits Kanto, paralyzing transport; 267 injuries reported
Snow fell on the Kanto and Koshin regions on Monday, blanketing the capital for the first time this winter. Snow started falling in central Tokyo at around 10 a.m.
The snowfall paralyzed traffic, affecting planes, trains, buses and cars, as well as stranding young people taking part in traditional coming-of-age ceremonies. Traffic came to a standstill on the expressways at about 3 p.m.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, 7 cms of snow fell on Tokyo and Chiba and 8 cms on Yokohama. The temperature in Tokyo at noon was 0.8 degrees, the agency said.
Policemen helped drivers shove cars stuck on snow-covered roads while employees cleared the pavement in front of their shops.
Japanese airlines cancelled more than 460 domestic flights, mainly to or from Tokyo’s Haneda airport where runways were temporarily closed as workers removed snow, public broadcaster NHK said.
Dozens of train services in the capital were also cancelled. Highways were also closed at many points in Tokyo and surrounding areas, news reports and officials said. As of 5 p.m., 267 people were injured in either traffic accidents by slipping over, NHK reported.
The severe weather disrupted Coming-of Age Day ceremonies across the nation on Monday, a national holiday at which 20-year-olds celebrate legally reaching adulthood.
“The snow disappointed me as I was hoping for fine weather,” a 20-year-old woman wearing a traditional kimono and sheltering under an umbrella told TV Asahi at a ceremony hall in the city’s western district of Oume.
Other young women in colourful kimonos walked gingerly through the snow-covered streets to the ceremonies.
The weather agency warned of further severe winter storms and heavy snow overnight in eastern Japan.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said that up to 40 cms of snow is expected to fall in the Tokyo metropolitan region by 6 p.m.