National

Japanese head abroad as Bon exodus begins

Kyodo

Tens of thousands of vacationers flew abroad from airports in the Tokyo and Osaka areas as Japan’s summer exodus began Saturday.

The number of international travelers passing through Narita airport is expected to total 871,500 during the 10 days of the Bon holiday season from Friday to Aug. 16, up 8 percent from last year, while the figure at Haneda airport is set to rise 9 percent to 379,300, the airports’ operators said. Both figures are the largest in five years.

Narita International Airport Corp. attributes the expected rise chiefly to flight availability as new routes and increased flights are put in the summer flight schedule. Among the main destinations are Hawaii, Guam and other resort locations and Taiwan.

Nearly 50,000 travelers at Narita and about 21,000 at Haneda were expected to leave for abroad on Saturday, when the number of international outbound flight passengers peaks for this year’s Bon season.

A 6-year-old boy from Fukushima Prefecture said at Narita before traveling to Thailand with his family that he was looking forward to “eating a lot of mangoes.”

Kansai International Airport near Osaka is expected to see a record 511,800 passengers during the Bon festival to honor ancestors.

“I want to relax at my resort,” Yuki Ueda, 31, an office worker from Hyogo Prefecture, said in the airport’s congested international departure lobby before flying to Malaysia.

Yuta Suzuki, a 10-year-old traveling to Guam with his family from Osaka Prefecture, said he plans to snorkel in the sea.

All Nippon Airways has said its international bookings, particularly for flights linking Japan and China, other Asian areas and Europe, have been brisk also due to foreign visitors.

On Saturday, vacationers also began to leave major cities for their hometowns and resorts in Japan.

The number of passengers on outbound domestic flights and shinkansen lines is expected to peak Wednesday, with the return peak next Saturday.

Airlines have said bookings on domestic flights are strong for flights to and from airports in the Kansai area due chiefly to the popularity of the Harry Potter attractions at Universal Studios Japan.

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