SAITAMA -- The severing of buds on some 3,000 rose bushes began at a park in this city's Chuo Ward, north of Tokyo, on April 22 to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus as there are fears that the area will become crowded with visitors coming into close contact with each other as they flock to see the flowers.
The popular annual rose festival held at Yono Park in May was canceled, but the park remains open to visitors so the city government decided to take the additional extreme measure.
According to the city and other organizations, the 180 varieties of rose bushes are usually at peak bloom from mid- to late-May and large numbers of people visit the area even outside the festival period. An official with the city's parks and green space association, in charge of the park, said, "It's very painful to do but we decided to take such action after studying the situations in other municipalities." The severing work will take about a week to be completed.
Contracted workers cut off each bud with scissors as passing residents looked on disappointedly. A 76-year-old male resident of Saitama's Omiya Ward, who often visits the park, said, "The roses at their best are worth seeing every year. I think it's a waste but we have no choice."
(Japanese original by Hayato Narisawa, Saitama Bureau)