The winter's first snowfall blanketed Tokyo and its environs yesterday, paralyzing traffic and stranding young people taking part in traditional coming- of-age ceremonies.
Pedestrians tiptoed through slush in the upmarket Ginza shopping district as a storm system covered much of the Japanese archipelago.
Policemen helped drivers shove cars stuck on snow-covered roads while shop workers cleared the pavement in front of their stores.
Japanese airlines canceled more than 460 domestic flights, mainly to or from Tokyo's Haneda airport, where runways were temporarily closed as workers removed snow, public broadcaster NHK said.
Dozens of train services in the capital were also canceled. Highways were closed at many points in Tokyo and surrounding areas as seven centimeters of snow fell in the capital.
The severe weather disrupted "Coming of Age Day" ceremonies across the nation, a national holiday at which 20-year-olds celebrate legally reaching adulthood.
"The snow disappointed me as I was hoping for fine weather," said a young woman wearing a traditional kimono and sheltering under an umbrella at a hall in the city's western district of Oume. Other young women in colorful kimonos walked gingerly through the snow- covered streets to the ceremonies.
The weather agency warned of further severe winter storms and heavy snow overnight in eastern Japan. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE