Saturday, March 23, 2013
Businesses Buzzing As Cherry Blossom Season Starts Early
TOKYO (Nikkei)--Companies are scrambling to make the most of the good cheer stemming from the early flowering of the cherry blossoms.
- Consumers are snapping up fancy boxed meals for blossom-viewing parties.
Takashimaya Co.'s (8233) Shinjuku department store has started selling special prepared meals for "hanami" outdoor flower-viewing parties about 10 days earlier than usual. The store expects sales to grow 10% from a year earlier.
Mitsukoshi Ltd.'s Ginza department store has expanded its lineup of hanami takeout meals by three from last year to 16. Some sell for around 5,000 yen.
Hankyu Travel International Co. has fielded double the number of hanami tours to Fukushima Prefecture this year, thanks to a popular television drama set in the area.
Tours for Nara and Kyoto Prefectures, as well as elsewhere in the travel agency's home base of western Japan, have jumped about 60%. Rival JTB Corp. has received more bookings for hanami-related tour products than it did last year.
The peak of the cherry blossom season arrived in Tokyo 12 days earlier than usual, the Japan Meteorological Agency said Friday.
Ueno Onshi Park, a popular hanami spot here, is bracing for 600,000 visitors over this Saturday and Sunday -- up 5% from last year's peak.
(The Nikkei, March 23 morning edition)