Travelers crowd trains, airports as Japan’s Golden Week holiday begins

Travelers wearing masks crowded train stations and airports across Japan as the Golden Week holiday began Friday without the issuance of a coronavirus state of emergency for the first time in three years.

Transportation reservations have increased sharply compared with those a year earlier, although they have not recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

Haneda airport in Tokyo was crowded from early morning with travelers and their luggage, as reservations for domestic departure flights of Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. were almost fully booked, according to the airlines.

Travelers crowd the domestic terminal of Tokyo’s Haneda airport on April 29, 2022, as Japan enters the Golden Week holiday period without a coronavirus state of emergency in force for the first time in three years. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

At the airport, all four security checkpoints of Terminal 2 were open for the first time in about two years.

“We’d like to support the local tourism while preventing infections,” said Yumiko Kondo, a 49-year-old woman who was on a trip to Okinawa Prefecture in southern Japan with her family.

Her 8-year-old son Eita said, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been to an airport, so I’m very excited. I want to make a lot of memories.”

At JR Tokyo Station, people flooded the platforms of the Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train after it fully resumed services on April 14 following suspension due to a powerful earthquake that hit northeastern Japan in March.

“I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to return to my hometown for the holidays, but the services resumed sooner than I expected,” said 36-year-old Kenichi Watanabe before going to Fukushima Prefecture with his family members.

According to Japan Railway companies, reservations for shinkansen bullet trains increased by 56 to 284 percent in the period from Thursday to May 8 from a year earlier.

Airlines’ bookings from Friday to May 8 were 1.7 times higher than the previous year for domestic flights and 4.7 times higher for international flights.

In the previous two Golden Week holidays, local governments asked citizens to refrain from traveling across prefectures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This year’s Golden Week will end on May 8.

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