National

Chiba Prefecture tourism takes hit after Typhoon Faxai

JIJI

The tourism industry in Chiba Prefecture has suffered a heavy blow from powerful Typhoon Faxai, which struck the prefecture last week.

With some tourism sites in the prefecture facing drops in visitors and others suspending operations, concerns over extended negative effects are mounting ahead of the start of the fall sightseeing season.

Country Farm Tokyo German Village in the city of Sodegaura, which receives over 1 million visitors annually, resumed operations on Saturday, five days after the typhoon struck on Sept. 9. But visitor traffic stands at around 70 percent of normal levels.

The theme park is stepping up efforts to attract more visitors, including by making admission free of charge, as work to collect fallen trees continues.

The outlook for restarting operations of a 220-meter-long water slide, which was damaged by strong winds from the typhoon, is unclear. It is also unknown whether a large, planned event in November can be held as scheduled, because a 10-meter-tall lantern, a key feature of the event, was damaged.

Toshio Arai, a 59-year-old resident of the city of Kitamoto in Saitama Prefecture, visited Chiba Prefecture with his family on Wednesday as planned after the hotel they reserved in the city of Kisarazu, adjacent to Sodegaura, offered a room upgrade and asked them not to cancel.

Country Farm Tokyo German Village was the only amusement facility in operation nearby, Arai said.

“When I think about victims of the typhoon, I wonder if it’s OK to be in a holiday mood,” he said.

The typhoon left numerous households in Chiba without electricity and running water.

Meanwhile, phone connections have not been stable in the city of Minamiboso, located at the southernmost part of Chiba and known for its warm weather, due to the typhoon.

The city’s tourism association has been bombarded with inquiries about the situation there.

“There’s been no problem with traffic access, and no impact has been made to our rich natural tourism assets,” an association official said.

“Your visits will facilitate the reconstruction of Minamiboso,” a message on the association’s website says.

Mother Farm in the city of Futtsu, which attracts as many as 900,000 visitors a year, is aiming to restart operations on Saturday. The typhoon broke windows at its restaurants and damaged facilities for shows featuring sheep.

The power outage at the tourist farm has already been resolved, and a final check on electricity supply is underway.

After Mother Farm posted a message on social media — along with photos of the farm’s animals — that there has been no problem with animal feed and water. Many people reacted by sending words of encouragement.

“Many people worry about our animals, so we’re really grateful,” said Masatoshi Sato, a public relations employee at the farm.