• Kyodo, Staff Report


A 15-year-old high school boy drowned Sunday after the boat he and three former classmates were aboard capsized in a moat surrounding Takada Park in Joetsu, Niigagta Prefecture, where hundreds of people had converged to view cherry blossoms in full bloom.

Hikaru Iguchi disappeared at around 6:15 p.m.

A teenage witness said the four were rocking the boat before it flipped. The other three clung to the overturned vessel and survived.

Police and firefighters searched for Iguchi for two hours before finding him drowned in the 2-meter-deep moat. He was confirmed dead at a hospital.

The 3.6-meter-long, 1.5-meter-wide boat was one of many used to view the blossoming cherry trees that line the moat.

The park, which has about 4,000 cherry trees, is regarded as one of Japan’s three most famous sites for viewing cherry blossoms at night. They have been lit at night since the start of this month.

Iguchi’s death came just before his high school’s entrance ceremony. The four boys graduated from the same junior high school last month. A 15-year-old girl, who was one of his classmates, said he was a cheerful boy who was good at basket ball.

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