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Chaos in the Capital: Photos of Record Snowfall in Tokyo

Categories: East Asia, Japan, Arts & Culture, Citizen Media, Environment, Photography
shibuya crossing snow [1]

Captions: “Live from Shibuya Station”, record-breaking snowfall. 23 centimeters expected to fall in Tokyo Metropolitan area. Screencap from ANN YouTube channel [1].

At least one foot (30 centimeters) of snow accumulated in the Tokyo region over the weekend and into Monday, January 22. This is the most significant snowfall in Tokyo since 2014. [2] Although this rare weather event shut down transportation networks, it also provided terrific photo opportunities for the nine million residents of Japan's capital region.

A record-breaking amount of snow has fallen in Tokyo.

The Asakusa neighborhood on the east side of Tokyo, a tourist area home to the famous Senso-ji Temple [5], offered some particularly spectacular snapshots.

When it snows out Asakusa becomes just like a painting. \(^o^)/  #snow #asakusa #asakua_temple

On the other side of the city, one Twitter user snapped a surreal scene in Shinjuku:

Even Godzilla made an appearance:

[…] I love snow, it makes me smile. While I wasn't able to make a snowman, here's a snow-Godzilla. It's going to be slippery tomorrow, so watch out!

For Tokyo residents who are not used to the snow, the weather was mainly a pain. The heaviest snows fell on Monday evening at rush hour.

Peak snowfall will occur in early evening in the Tokyo Metropolitan area during the evening commute, causing chaos. Will the snow affect the morning commute tomorrow? We're providing live updates from different locations about the snow. Please tune in tonight for a detailed weather forecast.

The heavy snowfall essentially shut down the network of expressways and toll roads throughout central Tokyo, bringing traffic to a standstill.

Conditions in the tunnels on the Shuto Expressway are terrible. Today we were planning to go on a school trip to Odaiba on the expressway but I wonder if the buses are running. The city streets are also probably crammed with traffic.

When I phoned the teacher last night s/he still seemed excited to go [to Odaiba]  (・・;)

Is it going to be all right?

After traffic was stalled in some tunnels for more than five hours, fears of exhaust gas buildup [24] forced many motorists and passengers to abandon their vehicles and escape.

After being stopped for more than five hours in the Yamate Tunnel, tons of people headed for the emergency exits because of building exhaust fumes.

Tokyo residents, who are generally unused to snowy conditions, had to be reminded about how to prepare for the weather.

Because of snowfall accumulations on the Kanto Plain, slippery conditions are expected tomorrow morning. Please take care when walking to avoid slips and spills, or car accidents.

Some Twitter users poked fun at the shock and surprise caused by the unexpected winter snowfall in Tokyo.

Residents from parts of Japan where heavy snowfall is quite common also commented on the chaos in the capital. This Twitter user posted a photo from the mountain city of Aizu, in snowy Fukushima, to the northeast of Tokyo:

While the trains are probably running behind, causing disruption in Tokyo, the Aizu Railroad is right on schedule today.

Another Tokyo resident pointed out why snowfall might be a big deal in Tokyo:

“Lol Tokyo sucks at snow compared to my city X,” where X is a place that (a) regularly sees weather like this, (b) spends a big chunk of its budget on snow-plowing, and (c) has maybe 1/100 of the commuters of this sprawling mess. [37]

A post shared by Peter Durfee [38] (@durf) on