Cherry blossoms, deadlines greet Tokyoites on second Premium Friday
Fiscal year-end puts damper on some events
TOKYO -- The end of the fiscal year and start of cherry blossom season here coincided with Japan's second Premium Friday, a nationwide push to let employees out of work at 3 p.m. on the last Friday of the month to encourage spending.
Some Tokyo businesses curtailed or held events earlier on expectations of a smaller turnout as employees rush to complete tasks related to the end of the business year, which was Friday for many Japanese companies.
Hamburger shop operator Mos Food Services, which held a seminar at a tea specialty store for February's Premium Friday, decided not to organize anything this month. The Seibu Ikebukuro department store hosted events such as a seminar on aromatherapy hand massages a week earlier, on March 24.
Meanwhile, department store operator Takashimaya sold about 60 types of desserts featuring sakura, or cherry blossom, motifs on Friday at its store in Tokyo's Nihonbashi district, and offered customers at its Shinjuku store rickshaw rides to nearby cherry blossom viewing spots.
Department store Matsuzakaya offered free bottles of pink sparkling wine to customers who spent more than 10,000 yen ($89) on food at its store in Ueno district, distributing the bottles at a booth set up in Ueno Park, a popular spot for enjoying cherry blossoms in Tokyo.
Also taking part in Premium Friday was Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who departed his official residence at 3 p.m. sharp for a weekend trip to his vacation home in Yamanashi Prefecture near Mt. Fuji. Abe plans to play golf over the weekend, telling reporters he wants to "relax and enjoy nature." The last time the prime minister visited his vacation home was for his summer holiday in mid-August.