Tokyo shivers under unusually heavy snowfall

A worker for a delivery service rides a bicycle past a Shinto shrine as the snow comes down, Jan 6, 2022, in Tokyo. (KIICHIRO SATO / AP)

TOKYO – The Japanese capital of Tokyo shivered under an unusually prolonged snowfall on Thursday, with heavy snow warnings issued for the city and surrounding areas for the first time in four years.

Tokyo often sees snow once or twice a winter, but substantial accumulations are rare. Thursday's fall was brought about by a combination of a low pressure system and temperatures that have chilled the city for well over a week.

With temperatures continuing to fall in Tokyo, the Japanese authorities warned about slippery streets and possible transit delays

The snow began falling around noon and by 3:00 pm local time (0600 GMT), some 5 cm had accumulated, while temperatures hovered just below 0 degrees Celsius (32 F). The snow continued to fall into the evening, with predictions of at least 8 cm in Tokyo.

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"My company has not advised us (to go home early) so I will go home at the usual time and will commute to work normally tomorrow but I hope to go home before the train stops," said 36-year-old office worker Misaki Takahashi. "The train I take stops when it gets windy so I'm worried about the snow."

Others said they could work from home – a rarity before the pandemic – and would monitor the situation.

With temperatures continuing to fall, authorities warned about slippery streets and possible transit delays, although children played happily and others also said they enjoyed it.

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"It doesn't snow around here that often so it's very rare," said Toshifumi Kobayashi, a 26-year-old graduate student.

"It's a hassle when transportation gets suspended but it's a nice view as long as it's just a little snowfall, so I like it."