National

Tourists flock to Japan to kick off Chinese New Year

Kyodo

The Lunar New Year holiday season kicked off Friday as Chinese and other tourists jammed major airports ahead of Asia’s traditional turn of the year on Saturday.

“I have visited Japan 10 times or more and love this country,” said Li Wen-hsuan, 46, upon arriving with his wife at Osaka’s Kansai International Airport. “We want to buy cosmetics this time around.”

The Taiwanese tourist said the itinerary for the couple’s five-day trip includes visits to cities including Osaka and Kyoto.

While the official holidays in China are set to last for a week through Feb. 2, airline officials said holiday-related travel from Japan’s giant neighbor is expected to continue beyond that date.

An official for Japanese budget carrier Peach Aviation Ltd. said its Shanghai to Osaka flights are almost fully booked through Feb. 5. An official from All Nippon Airways Co. said the peak for departures from the airport is likely to take place on Feb. 5.

Last year, Chinese made up 26.5 percent of all tourists to Japan at 6.37 million, the most by nationality, followed by 5.09 million people from South Korea and 4.17 million from Taiwan.