Huge traffic jams, torrential rain mar second half of Golden Week holidays


Expressways and train stations across the country struggled to cope with a Golden Week exodus Thursday, as travelers took advantage of the beginning of a four-day holiday to escape from the daily grind but in the process brave massive downpours.

Traffic jams clogged myriad outbound lanes on expressways heading out of Tokyo, including a 55-km stretch on the Kanetsu Expressway in Saitama Prefecture, 43 km on the Tohoku Expressway in Fukushima Prefecture and 22 km on the newly opened Shin Tomei Expressway in Shizuoka Prefecture, the Japan Road Traffic Information Center said.

Bullet train services were almost full on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu lines.

The Meteorological Agency issued warnings for landslides and swollen rivers in northern and eastern areas after Pacific coastal areas were hit by torrential rain caused by an extreme low-pressure system. An estimated 40 mm of rain per hour was expected in the north on Friday.

Rain measuring a record 649 mm fell over a 24-hour period through 4:10 a.m. Thursday in Izu, Shizuoka Prefecture, the agency said.