Bon travel rush hits full throttle

Kyodo

The annual Bon vacation rush of travelers from Narita airport to overseas destinations peaked Saturday, while roads and railway stations were crammed with people heading for their hometowns.

About 50,000 passengers were expected to fly out of Narita on Saturday to destinations including Europe, Guam and Hawaii, according to Narita International Airport Corp.

That number is expected to be 10 percent higher than last year amid a revival in leisure activities since last year’s disasters and despite a slight drop in the yen’s strength, the airport’s operator said.

The return rush is forecast to peak Aug. 18 and 19.

Domestic flights departing from Tokyo’s Haneda airport were almost at full capacity, while the domestic departure lobby at Kansai airport in Osaka Prefecture also was crammed with travelers, airlines reported.

Almost all reserved seats were booked for morning shinkansen trains leaving Tokyo on the Tohoku, Yamagata, Akita, Jouetsu, Nagano and Tokaido lines. The passenger occupancy rate on a bullet train bound for Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture reached 170 percent after pulling out of Nagoya Station around 7:30 a.m., according to railway operators.

Meanwhile, major roads were jam-packed across the country. A 49-km traffic jam snarled a section of the Tohoku Expressway in Tochigi Prefecture, vehicles were backed up for 41 km on a stretch of the Tomei Expressway in Kanagawa Prefecture, and a 42-km tieup was reported on the Chugoku Expressway in Hyogo Prefecture, the Japan Road Traffic Information Center said.