New Year travelers return en masse from overseas vacations, visits to hometowns


The number of travelers returning from the New Year’s holidays peaked Sunday, with bullet trains and airports packed with passengers heading home.

Most seats on shinkansen bullet trains bound for Tokyo were taken, with the occupancy rate for nonreserved seating hitting 160 percent on some trains leaving Fukuoka for the capital, Japan Railway companies said.

Domestic flights bound for Tokyo were also close to capacity, Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. said.

The return of travelers from abroad peaked at Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture, with around 46,000 people, including foreign visitors, arriving at the airport on Sunday.

The number of international flight passengers between Dec. 18 and Jan. 3 was estimated to have increased 4 percent from a year earlier to about 1.27 million at Narita.

Rika Okabe, 53, from Kagoshima Prefecture, said she visited Walt Disney World Resort in Florida with her husband. “I will resume work tomorrow. I work to take vacations,” she said.

Vehicles were backed up for 20 km on a section of the Kan-etsu Expressway in Saitama Prefecture, the Japan Road Traffic Information Center said.

Meanwhile, temperatures rose across the nation on Sunday to hit record highs for January at 26 locations in 13 prefectures.

In the town of Hanawa in Fukushima Prefecture and in the city of Toyama, Toyama Prefecture, the temperature hit 16.9 C. Just a little cooler, at 16.8 C, was Kameyama in Mie Prefecture.