This year’s hanami season is shaping up to be a weird one. The beginning of spring rarely forces people to choose between having a good time under the cherry blossoms and grappling with a pandemic, but that’s where we’re at in 2020.

For those proactively practicing social distancing, it’s still possible to have a hanami from the comfort of your own home thanks to konbini (convenience store) sakura (cherry blossom) offerings. FamilyMart currently boasts a range of cherry blossom-themed sweets, from a pinkish pound cake to dorayaki pancake sandwiches. The highlight, though, is a sakura anpan bun (¥128 after tax), which adds a slightly tart cherry taste to the red bean paste.

Seven-Eleven’s best offering is a dango dumpling trio (¥170 after tax), which is a nice variant for those who might be sakura-flavor fatigued. The best ongoing konbini sweet, however, isn’t explicitly tied to the season — that’s Lawson’s dorayaki (¥240 after tax). Inspired by “Doraemon,” it’s a fluffy creation with a juicy strawberry in the middle. It won’t evoke a crowded park, but it will perk you up during any periods of isolation.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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