Last chance to be first to enjoy Japan's 2013 cherry blossom season
CNN -- Feb 07
Cherry blossom season in Japan generally begins in late March. But you don't have to wait that long to check out this year's first blossoms. Travelers eager for an early look at Japan's national flower -- the cherry blossom (sakura) -- can head for Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture.
Thanks to Okinawa's warmer temps, the pretty bell-like flowers start appearing on cherry trees from mid-January to mid-February.
Sakura festivals are held all over Okinawa, allowing families to take part in "hanamai," or flower viewing.
Among the best is the Naha Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival, which runs from February 12-17 in Yogi Park in Naha City.
Police in Niihama, Ehime Prefecture, are investigating the mutilation deaths of three cats whose bodies were left in a park. Two were found dead in February, and the third was found on Saturday. (Japan Today )
Banging on drums and waving "Sayonara nukes" signs, thousands of people rallied in a Tokyo park and marched to Parliament on Sunday to demand an end to nuclear power ahead of the third anniversary of the Fukushima disaster. (scmp.com )
Fewer than 40 pct of residents and commuters in Tokyo take specific measures to prepare for a possible huge earthquake beneath the Japanese capital, despite high awareness on disaster prevention, a Metropolitan Police Department survey showed Friday. (Jiji Press )
The man under arrest for fatally stabbing one man and wounding three others during a 10-minute rampage in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, on Monday night, told police on Thursday that he wanted to hijack a plane at Haneda airport and fly it into Tokyo Skytree to take revenge on society. (Japan Today )
The man lauded as "Japan's Beethoven," who has admitted he never wrote his compositions, appeared before cameras for the first time since the scandal surfaced - clean-shaven and minus his trademark sunglasses. (abcnews.go.com )