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ANA, JAL passengers watch first sunrise of New Year in annual tradition

All Nippon Airways staff dressed in kimonos see off passengers boarding a flight to observe the first sunrise of the New Year by Mount Fuji, at Haneda Airport in Ota Ward, Tokyo, on Jan. 1, 2017. (Mainichi)

All Nippon Airways (ANA) staff dressed in kimonos saw off passengers as they boarded a flight with the airline from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to view the first sunrise of the New Year on Jan. 1, in what has become an annual tradition.

    The first sunrise of the New Year is seen next to Mount Fuji from an All Nippon Airways flight, on Jan. 1, 2017. (Mainichi)

    The occasion marked the 17th time the New Year's sunrise-viewing flight has been held. ANA staff in kimonos saw the passengers off at the boarding gate, adding to the New Year's feeling. The Boeing 777-200 flight, numbered ANA2017 and departing at 5:36 a.m., carried 186 passengers. At around 6:46 a.m., as the plane was at a location about 4,000 meters above the Kamiina region of Nagano Prefecture, the sun showed itself above clouds near Mount Fuji. As rays of light from the sun poured in through the windows, applause erupted and passengers began taking pictures with their cameras and smartphones.

    One passenger, company employee Hideaki Mizobuchi, 45, of Arakawa Ward, Tokyo, shook hands with ANA President Osamu Shinobe before boarding the flight. He said, "It was the first time I saw the first sunrise of the New Year from an airplane, and it was moving. I want to take the flight again next year."

    Meanwhile, about 450 passengers of Japan Airlines (JAL) from Haneda and Narita airports viewed the first sunrise of the New Year as well as Mount Fuji on Jan. 1.

    A Boeing787-9 on Flight 2911, named after Jan. 1 of the 29th year of the Heisei era, took off from Narita Airport shortly after 6 a.m. carrying 185 passengers, and waited for this year's first sunrise while circling at an altitude of about 5,500 meters above Tateyama, Chiba Prefecture. Many passengers applauded as they saw this year's first sunrise shortly after 6:40 a.m. After viewing Mount Fuji above the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture, the flight returned to Narita Airport.

    Flight 1711, named after Jan. 1, 2017, took off from Haneda Airport shortly before 6 a.m. A total of 265 passengers on the Boeing 777 saw this year's first sunrise above Yamanashi Prefecture, just west of Mount Fuji at around 6:40 a.m.

    The first sunrise of the New Year is seen from a Japan Airlines flight, on Jan. 1, 2017. (Mainichi)

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