The cherry blossom season is expected to arrive earlier than average in many parts of Japan, according to preliminary forecasts issued by a meteorological agency.
As of the latest forecast issued on Jan 23, the peak viewing period in Tokyo is expected to be from March 28 to April 4, a few days earlier than usual.
Most of Japan has been going through a very mild winter, with many ski resorts being forced to shut down because of the lack of snow.
The two companies that run the budget 1,000 JPY buses between Narita Airport and Tokyo Station will be operating under a single brand name, effective February 1st, 2020.
"The Access Narita" and "Tokyo Shuttle" both operate low-cost services with slightly different departure points, but will begin to operate under the unified "Airport Bus TYO-NRT" name in February.
The departure point at Tokyo Station will be the Tokyo Station Expressway Terminal next to the Yaesu South Gates, where the Access Narita buses depart now.
The ticketing system will follow the Tokyo Shuttle format where one has to buy a ticket at the counter in advance. (Currently the Access Narita buses allows passengers to pay onboard)
A detailed timetable is scheduled to be released on Jan 15th.
During the New Year Holidays , services on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line will be partially suspended on the western end of the line between Shibuya and Tameike Sanno.
There will be no services between Shibuya (G01)-Omotesando (G02) and also Aoyama Ichome (G04)-Tameike Sanno (G06) for a total of six consecutive days, from December 28 to January 2nd, 2020.
Limited services will be provided between Omotesando (G02) and Aoyama Ichome (G04) at a frequency of about once every 12 minutes.
The other sections of the line, from Tameike Sanno (G06) to Asakusa (G19) will not be affected.
The closure allows for the renovations of the Shibuya Station. Trains will resume its normal operation on January 3rd.
East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) announced that the current station building for Harajuku Station will be torn down once the Olympics and Paralympics are finished in 2020.
The company cited that the wooden building completed in 1924 does not meet the current fire regulations. What began as a tiny station next to the Meiji Shrine, daily users are now up to 75,000 people per day and the historic building is no longer suitable in handling the heavy traffic. A new building to be completed in spring 2020 will take over the station function.
There were hopes the old station could be preserved as a landmark, or at least relocated to an adjacent location, but JR East officially ruled this option out in the press release.
The volcanic activity around the Owakudani area in Hakone has quieted down; on October 7th the caution level was changed from Level 2 to Level 1. This clears the way for access to the popular thermal valley to resume anytime local authorities have carried out final safety inspections. Local media was reporting that access to Owakudani could resume within the next 10-14 days.
The Hakone Ropeway continues to operate partially between Ubako and Togendai. A shuttle bus service is offered for the remaining section which remains closed until further notice.
Further update (26 Oct):
Operation of the Hakone Ropeway fully resumed on Oct 26. However note that the Hakone Tozan Rail which provides the main approach to the ropeway was badly damaged by Typhoon Hagibis, a strong typhoon that hit the area on Oct 12. No time schedule has been released on when the rail service between Hakone-Yumoto and Gora will resume.
The Shibuya Station will see some big changes in how the exits are numbered, coming up on November. For example, exit 15 which connects with the Shibuya Hikarie will be renumbered to "Exit B5" and exit 13 in the direction of Cat Street will be designated "Exit B1". Certain exits on the western end of the station will see only a minor change; for example exit 8 which leads to the Hachiko statue will be "Exit A8" effective Nov 1st.
The changes are supposed to give users a better idea of the direction for this massive station; the letter "A" will be added to exits on the western side and "B" to the eastern end.
Nov 1 will also see the grand opening of the "Shibuya Scramble Square" which will include shops, restaurants and an open-air observation deck "SHIBUYA SKY" on the 45th floor. It will be adjacent to new exit B6.