The rush of holidaymakers returning to the Tokyo metropolitan area after spending the New Year’s holidays in their hometowns and other destinations peaked Thursday, with trains, airplanes and expressways crammed with travelers.
Reserved seats on Tokyo-bound bullet trains from northern, central and western Japan were almost fully booked, according to railways, with passengers on the Joetsu Shinkansen Line connecting Tokyo and Niigata exceeding capacity by over 70 percent on some of its services.
Travelers also packed domestic flights to Tokyo’s Haneda airport, with All Nippon Airways Co. reporting 98 percent of seats on flights booked and Japan Airlines Corp. 91 percent. JAL expects the number of passengers on its services, including international flights, to peak Saturday.
Heavy traffic jams were observed on Tokyo-bound expressways, with a 51-km-long jam seen around the Yamato Tunnel in Kanagawa Prefecture on the Tomei Expressway as of 5 p.m.
A 7-km jam occurred on the Chuo Expressway in Yamanashi Prefecture, where a deadly ceiling collapse in the expressway’s Sasago Tunnel claimed the lives of nine people at the beginning of December. The Tokyo-outbound tunnel section is temporarily handling traffic in both directions.
The rush of travelers spending their holidays overseas is expected to peak Sunday at Narita airport and Osaka’s Kansai International Airport.
Tokyo, Seoul top tweets
Messages per second on Twitter spiked to a record 33,388 when people in Japan and South Korea — both in the same time zone — rang in the new year, many of them apparently New Year’s greetings, the operator said.
The figure compares with 11,675 tweets when the new year arrived in Thailand two hours later, 9,455 in Britain and 13,336 on the U.S. East Coast, Twitter said on its official blog.
Glitch hits au services
Email and Internet services were disabled nationwide for nearly two hours early Wednesday morning on some au smartphones and tablet devices of KDDI Corp., following similar trouble reported on New Year’s Eve on the carrier’s network.
No voice communications were disrupted during the data service trouble, which affected around 1.75 million people between 12:05 a.m. and 1.53 a.m. using the iPhone 5 and other devices compatible with the LTE high-speed network, the nation’s second-largest cellphone carrier reported.
KDDI said it suspects a malfunction in its data communications system was responsible for the glitch, but has yet to pinpoint the exact cause.