Tokyo is blanketed with snow on the morning of Jan. 7, a day after more than 10 centimeters of snowfall was recorded in the central part of the capital for the first time in four years. (Video by Takahiro Kumakura)

Heavy snowfall turned roads and sidewalks in central Tokyo into sheets of ice on Jan. 6, stranding many motorists in their vehicles overnight and resulting in more than 200 injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists. 

Much of the Metropolitan Expressway, which runs through the central part of the capital, was shut down from the night of Jan. 6.

On the portion of the inner track of the circular route of the Metropolitan Expressway that extends almost 6 kilometers from Kohoku Junction in Adachi Ward to Itabashi Junction in Itabashi Ward, drivers were forced to stay in their cars overnight for more than 10 hours. 

On the morning of Jan. 7, those cars were shifted to local roads from the inner track through interchanges. Some of the vehicles had to be pulled by tow trucks.

After a temporary closure, the 6-km portion of the route was reopened by 7:45 a.m. that day, when cars again started moving smoothly. 

According to the Metropolitan Police Department and the Metropolitan Expressway Co., cars started to back up after vehicles at the front became unable to move because of the icy conditions.

Staff of the Metropolitan Expressway looked after the drivers and their fellow passengers by offering them food, water and disposable toilets.

As of 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 7, frozen road surfaces forced the closure of 14 routes on the Metropolitan Expressway including Route No. 1 Ueno Line, Route No. 10 Harumi Line and the circular line, which closed a total of almost 150 entrances to these routes.

All of the 14 routes excluding Bayshore Route, Routes No. 6 Misato and Mukojima are expected to reopen by the evening of Jan. 7. Those three routes are also expected to reopen by the end of Jan. 7. 

The slippery roads contributed to a number of traffic accidents as well. The Metropolitan Police Department reported many accidents occurring in Tokyo from the afternoon of Jan. 6 when the snow began falling.

The Metropolitan Police Department received a total of almost 1,200 emergency calls on traffic accidents and related incidents by 6 a.m. on Jan 7.

On a bypass road in Shizuoka's Aoi Ward, at around 2:55 a.m. on Jan. 7, a traffic accident involving four vehicles occurred after a trailer crashed into a guardrail after skidding in the snow. No one was injured in the accident, according to the Shizuoka prefectural police.

The police said the cause of the accident was the frozen road surface. The accident forced the closure of part of the road for almost four hours.

According to Saitama prefectural police, at around 12:20 a.m. on Jan. 7, five large trucks were involved in an accident on National Route 4 in Kasukabe, Saitama Prefecture.

Many eyewitnesses made emergency calls to the police reporting, “A traffic accident involving a lot of vehicles has just occurred.”

Four drivers were rushed to a hospital following the accident, but all were reported to have sustained only minor injuries.

According to the Tokyo Fire Department, 215 pedestrians and bicyclists in Tokyo (excluding Inagi and the islands) were transported to hospitals after being injured in falls through 9 a.m. on Jan. 7.

The injured were aged between 9 and 97, with 70 percent in their 50s, 60s or 70s. None were reported to have sustained serious injuries.