• Kyodo


The Sendai Tanabata festival, a major tourist attraction in the Tohoku region, is drawing near, but innkeepers in northern Miyagi Prefecture have little to cheer about.

A series of nerve-racking earthquakes hit the region last Saturday, and “ryokan” inns and tourist hotels are reporting a flood of cancellations.

The area continues to be rocked by moderately strong aftershocks, one of which, with a preliminary magnitude of 3.5, hit the northern part of the prefecture Wednesday morning.

Hotel operators in Sendai, which is located about 30 km south of the most affected area, are also faced with heavy cancellations, even though the city suffered little damage from the earthquakes.

Sendai tourism officials are worried that the Sendai Tanabata festival, three days of summer festivities that begin Aug. 6, will draw fewer visitors this year.

Before the quakes struck, officials had been expecting the usual turnout — around 2 million visitors — for the festival.

Officials at the Sendai Tourism and Convention Bureau said the city appears close to the earthquake epicenter on maps and visitors from outside of Miyagi will probably steer clear of the city for a while.

Sendai is not alone in feeling the summer blues.

Tourism industries in Okumatsushima, a Tohoku resort known for its beaches and scenic views of small islands, are also worried. The resort is part of the township of Naruse, one of the municipalities hardest hit by the recent temblors.

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