Japan's Golden Week ends with packed trains, planes, highways

2013-05-06 13:54:59 GMT2013-05-06 21:54:59(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

TOKYO, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Japan's national traffic information center said Monday that congestion on major highways around the nation had hit a peak, as holiday makers return home en masse on the last day of "Golden Week" here.

The annual late spring break known as Golden Week -- so named as the rare run of national holidays are highly valued -- officially started on April 29, making for a three-day weekend, with a second-leg beginning on May 3, making for a four day break ending Monday.

But a number of employees in Japan, like Fuji Xerox's Hiroshi Tsuchida, opted to also take April 30 to May 2 as vacation leave, creating a straight 10 day break.

"I didn't like the idea of taking a short break, going back to work for three days and then having another break," the father of two explained. "We couldn't afford to go abroad so my wife and I decided to travel within Japan," he added.

"We visited relatives in Hiroshima and basically took day trips to zoos and theme parks with the kids. We had a great time but are tired, as you can see," the luggage-laden family man told Xinhua at a packed Tokyo Station late Monday afternoon.

The Japan Railways group said that reservations on bullet trains bound for Tokyo were fully-booked in the last vacation day as more Japanese opted for domestic travel, rather than overseas trips, due to the yen's recent drop against other major currencies.

Local airline carriers were also stretched as hoards of domestic travelers returned home, with Japan Airlines Corp. and All Nippon Airways Co. reporting that around 80 percent of their seats on all flights bound for Haneda Airport in Tokyo had been reserved as of Sunday.

According to the latest figures from JTB Corporation, Japan's largest travel agency and one of the largest in the world, the number of Japanese taking overseas trips during the holiday period this year declined 5 percent from a year earlier, with domestic travel, conversely, seen as a cheaper option, hitting record highs.

Japan National Tourism Organization meanwhile said that the weaker yen had seen a spike in foreign visitors choosing Japan as a holiday destination, following a prolonged slump after the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear crisis two years ago, with the latest monthly figures revealing a 26.3 percent increase from a year earlier to 857,000 visitors.

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