An usher with a mask stands next to a cherry tree during a cherry blossom festival.
Major cherry blossom festivals in Japan have been cancelled due to fears over the deadly new coronavirus, the latest in a growing list of events quashed as the epidemic spreads globally.
The traditional spring celebrations in Tokyo and Osaka, which attract millions of people wanting to see the white and pink flowers, will not go ahead as planned in April.
"We are sincerely sorry for those who were looking forward to the viewing... but please give us your understanding," the Japan Mint in Osaka said on Friday.
Other cherry blossom events — feverishly anticipated by locals and tourists — are likely to follow suit, according to local media.
Organisers of Tokyo's Nakameguro cherry blossom Festival said people could still enjoy the blooming trees that grow along public roads.
Trees in Tokyo will soon be in full bloom, with friends, families and colleagues typically flocking to parks for sometimes raucous, alcohol-fuelled celebrations.
The cancellations come as authorities step up efforts to tackle the outbreak in Japan, which has reported more than 230 infections and five deaths.
Schools are closed and the government is urging people to work from home or commute during off-peak hours and avoid large gatherings.
The operator of Tokyo's two Disney resorts — Disneyland and DisneySea — said Friday the parks would be closed for around two weeks due to the virus.
Universal Studios Japan in Osaka has also shuttered for a fortnight.
The crowds might be thinner and parties smaller, but warnings from officials over the coronavirus have done little to stop Japanese celebrating as the country's famed cherry trees explode into bloom.
Thousands of homeless "net cafe refugees" in Japan risk being turfed out onto the streets as the coronavirus pandemic forces the sudden closure of their uniquely Japanese 24/7 comic book havens.
A Japanese aquarium closed during the coronavirus outbreak is asking people to make video calls to their eels so the sensitive creatures remember humans exist and don't pose a threat.
Cash prizes of up to $2,500 are available in both the professional and novice categories for those who remove the most pythons, officials said. There are additional prizes for the longest python in each category.
A 50-year-old Ukrainian woman has found a new purpose in life: Rescuing wild animals and pets from the front lines of the war in Ukraine.
The campaign is aimed at those who are at the highest risk for developing the disease, specifically those aged 60 and over and people who are reluctant to visit their GP.