Bon voyage: Trains, planes, roads swarmed

Kyodo

The annual rush of travelers for the Bon summer holidays peaked Saturday, with roads and railway stations jammed with people heading to their hometowns and other destinations.

Almost all reserved seats on bullet trains from Tokyo were booked up Saturday morning on the Tohoku, Yamagata, Jouetsu, Nagano and Tokaido shinkansen lines.

Expressways were also congested. Vehicles were backed up for 43 km on a section of the Tomei Expressway in Kanagawa Prefecture and for 33 km on the Chuo Expressway in Yamanashi Prefecture, the Japan Road Traffic Information Center reported.

Domestic flights departing from Tokyo’s Haneda airport were booked close to capacity, with the reservation rate at 93 percent for Japan Airlines Co. and 92 percent for All Nippon Airways Co., according to the two carriers.

JAL and ANA said they were expecting a similar level of flight reservations Sunday, and that airports would be equally crammed.

Due to the heavy rain that struck parts of northern Japan on Friday, however, the Akita Shinkansen Line halted operations between Morioka and Akita stations Saturday.

Miyoko Ono, 54, who was at JR Tokyo Station searching for a way to still reach Akita, lamented that the trip was going to take much longer than usual, sighing, “They told me it’s an additional 2½ hours by local trains.”

Meanwhile, long lines of passengers in the departure lobby of Narita International Airport were preparing to head overseas for the holidays.

Tomoya Yokoi, 27, a company employee leaving for New York with his girlfriend, said: “We’re looking forward to visiting Broadway and the Statue of Liberty. This is our first time so we’re going to such must-see sites.”