Coronavirus fears left the nation's normally jam-packed bullet trains and expressways deserted on the first day of Golden Week on Saturday as the pace of infections showed little sign of slowing.

Many of the shinkansen leaving Tokyo Station Saturday were over 90 percent empty, railways said. Golden Week, a string of several closely timed national holidays, is traditionally one of the busiest times of year for the tourism industry.

"The train is empty as if one whole car is reserved just for me," said a 43-year-old woman who was boarding at Tokyo Station to go to Nagoya to see her parents.