Many people who ignored overcast skies to observe Monday’s annular solar eclipse enjoyed the rare event in very special ways.
About 110 people took a chartered Japan Airlines flight from Haneda airport that circled at an altitude of 12,000 meters to view the eclipse, in which the moon passes in front of the sun, blocking enough of it at one point to leave only a fiery ring of light. Faces were pressed to windows for about two hours as passengers watched the event unfold.
The tour cost up to ¥76,000 and window seats sold out within a couple of days after going sale March 8, JAL said.
Tokyoite Etsuko Moriwaki, 73, took the special flight with her husband, Kazuo, 75, ahead of their golden anniversary in June.
“It was ethereal beauty. The tour was the perfect gift” from her son, she said with tears in her eyes.
At a hotel in Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture, Takahisa Yamaguchi, a 36-year-old soccer team manager, and his 20-year-old bride, Mai, held a wedding ceremony on the seaside deck while observing the eclipse. Participants cheered as the couple held up their ring-laden hands against the eclipsed sun.
At an observation point in Sumida Ward, Tokyo, where Tokyo Skytree and the annular eclipse could be seen together, many people arrived early in the morning.
“It’s really great that we could see the eclipse so clearly,” said Hideyuki Monma, 66, who came from Kitami, Hokkaido, to see the event.
A northernmost tip of the area where it was viewable was Fukushima Prefecture, and some 200 students came to Ishigami Junior High School in Minamisoma to view the astronomical phenomenon.
“I thought we were lucky because when the annular eclipse began, the clouds parted,” said Yumi Matsumoto, 14.