Golden Week exodus peaks; transport routes overwhelmed

Kyodo

The mass exodus for the Golden Week holidays peaked Saturday as travelers crowded trains, airports and expressways.

The international terminal at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, which expanded to accommodate extra flights at the end of March, was abuzz with families departing for overseas destinations.

Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. said services were almost fully booked, with around 16,000 people estimated to be heading out of the country on Saturday alone and approximately 110,000 catching domestic flights.

Ken Hasegawa, a physiotherapist from neighboring Chiba Prefecture who was waiting to depart for Seoul with eight relatives, said he was looking forward to sampling the food in the South Korean capital.

“It’s more convenient now that there are more flights,” Hasegawa said.

At Narita airport, 36,000 people were flying out of Japan on Saturday.

Bullet trains departing Tokyo also were packed, with some passengers opting to stand in the aisles of cars with nonreserved seats.

Roads were overwhelmed, too, with traffic backed up for more than 50 km heading toward an interchange north of Tokyo on the Kanetsu Expressway running to Niigata Prefecture along the Sea of Japan coast.

With many travelers having set out earlier in the week, the U-turn to Tokyo and other large cities before the holidays end on Tuesday is expected to jam expressways from Sunday through Monday, airports from Monday through Tuesday, and railways on Tuesday, according to projections.