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Japan enjoys first weekend outside since complete lifting of coronavirus emergency

JIJI

People in Japan enjoyed outside activities on Saturday and Sunday, as the country marked the first weekend since its state of emergency over the COVID-19 epidemic was fully lifted on May 25.

Colorful sails appeared off a beach near Enoshima, Kanagawa Prefecture, as windsurfers hit the waters.

“During the stay-at-home period, we put a pool on the balcony, but the sea is much better,” said Naoko Yamanoi, 42, who was visiting Yokohama with her 8-year-old daughter.

“I hope (my daughter) will play to her heart’s content before her school is reopened” after being closed amid the epidemic, Yamanoi said, adding that the school’s summer break is expected to be shortened due to the closure.

Kazuma Fujiwara, 24, an employee at a seafood restaurant in Enoshima, said the number of visitors Saturday was about 40 percent of normal-year levels.

“We hope more customers will come back, but the outlook is uncertain,” he said.

The Owakudani hot spring district of Hakone, also in Kanagawa Prefecture, also reopened Saturday, with parking areas there fully occupied as of around 2 p.m., while about 50 people lined up at a local specialty shop.

“I feel refreshed in this natural environment,” said a 44-year-old corporate employee from neighboring Shizuoka Prefecture. “I want to make longer trips, so I hope the epidemic will end soon.”

Mount Takao, a popular spot for hikers in the western Tokyo city of Hachioji, saw scores of visitors over the weekend.

According to a local railway operator there, around 10,000 climbers visit the mountain every weekend day in normal years. But while the number of visitors is “gradually recovering,” the figures were “still staying at around 20 percent of the usual level,” stationmaster Shinya Machida said.

One 47-year-old company employee from Tokyo’s Nakano Ward said he chose to visit the nearby mountain instead of traveling outside of Tokyo.

The man said he took an early-morning train to come to the mountain, and noticed drunk passengers aboard.

“I’m worried that infections may increase again,” he said.

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