national

New Year's holiday departure rush begins

8 Comments

The New Year's period departure rush began Saturday at major railway stations and airports with people heading for their hometowns or other holiday destinations.

While some travelers are making the most of a strong yen to visit other Asian countries, most notably South Korea, others have to content themselves with making short-distance trips in Japan as the economy has fallen into a slump.

''Even if they are taking home less pay and winter bonuses, many people are determined to go on a family trip or visit their parents in their hometowns,'' said a spokesperson with a travel agency. ''They're trying to figure out the cheapest way to get from here to there under the budget constraints.''

A 45-year-old man who was lining up in front of the entrance for shinkansen bullet trains at JR Tokyo Station, said that after taking the high-speed train, he and his family would take a high-speed boat to get to his parents' home in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, on the island of Shikoku.

''It's best to fly but that would be pretty expensive,'' said the man, an employee of a drug wholesale company.

Since many companies had their last business day for the year Friday and will resume operations Jan 5, workers can take a maximum of nine straight days off, compared with about six days a year ago.

However, the longer time available does not necessarily mean more people are taking advantage of it to go abroad.

According to JTB Corp, the number of travelers going overseas between Dec 23 and Jan 3 will fall 4.6% from a year ago to around 580,000. Those visiting North America are expected to decline 9.5% to 38,000, and those heading to Europe will be down 4.9% to 77,000.

But due to the dramatic weakening of the South Korean won, the number of vacationers bound for South Korea has surged 24.7% to 91,000, and those flying to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia are also on the rise, JTB said.

Yasuyo Nagahashi, a 48-year-old company employee going on a four-day trip to South Korea, said, ''Since the won is cheap, I'm hoping to buy more cosmetics and visit an esthetic salon.''

The number of people who have made reservations for domestic air travel during the holiday period has dropped 4% from a year earlier to 2.57 million, and that for international flights is down 5.6% to 538,000, according to data released by Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.

But flights to South Korea are an exception, with JAL reporting a 50% jump in people going on group tours to the country.

As for other modes of transportation, Japan Railway companies has seen reservations for shinkansen and express trains rise 3.8%.

Express buses have also become popular. ''Rides from Tokyo to Tohoku (in the northern part of Honshu Island) and Kansai (in western Japan) are almost fully booked for 2008,'' said a person with JR Bus Kanto Co.

Still, this year's holiday season is being overshadowed by the recession.

Hiroyuki Inoue, a 41-year-old company employee, went to Tokyo's Haneda airport to see off his 7-year-old son. While his son visits his grandparents in Okayama Prefecture, Inoue said he will work at home. ''I hear a lot about how the economy is going downhill and there is no mood for an extravagant trip around me,'' he said.

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.


8 Comments
Login to comment

Suckers! I pity the Japanese for all having to go through this crap because they can't get holidays any different from their neighbour, or refusing to take them for fear of how it will look.

"But due to the dramatic weakening of the South Korean won, the number of vacationers bound for South Korea has surged 24.7% to 91,000, and those flying to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia are also on the rise, JTB said."

Yeah, and it's a shame that they're only paying a 30% + jacked up price for it, too. A normal round-trip ticket to Seoul costs around 27,000 yen, minus the fuel tax. Flights to the same place at this time are at at least 60,000, minus some tours, perhaps, which have also undoubtedly gone up.

What's more, the bloody airline companies have kept their fuel surcharge rates the same as they were before gas dropped 50% over the last month. They have stated they plan to lower it on January 5th, of course, when the Japanese people are done travelling. Oh, and of course they didn't add the 'when they are done travelling' part, but that's damn well what they're waiting for. When I complained about the rate not dropping I was told it was still the effects of the fuel shortage before. When I asked why it only affected airlines (not buses or cars) and why the date that the shortage effect would stop was the same date as all travellers went back to work (and what profit they were making) I got a 'shikata ga nai'.

So, in short, they're paying a lot more than they normally would to go to the same places, despite things on this countries actually being cheaper due to the exchange rate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I do know they tick a lot of people off with their 'do it in a group' mentality. Sure enough I see bus loads of Chinese and Korean at Osaka Park. New money for them. Anyway have fun in line kids and be careful in HK, Oz, and Singapore... They actually impose fines for smoking (zones) and the dirty stuff you do daily.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I just LOVE Nagoya station this time of year. Take a deep breath, drink a beer, then drink a few more beers. : (

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I absolutely HATE to travel during Oshogatsu & GW so I just stick close to home wait till the "" holidays "" are over then do something or beat the Oshogatsu rush.

I truly pity J-folks they just so rarely take there deserved holidays & many dont even get paid for days they dont use.

Hopefully one thing will come of this economic downturn & thats that your DAMNED J-Companies never have & never will give a damn about you, hope that has finally been figured out by some people of late but thats probably wishful thinking.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Have nice holidays!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yasuyo Nagahashi, a 48-year-old company employee going on a four-day trip to South Korea, said, ‘‘Since the won is cheap, I’m hoping to buy more cosmetics and visit an esthetic salon.’’

it's too late love, eat what you want

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Suckers! I pity the Japanese for all having to go through this crap because they can't get holidays any different from their neighbour, or refusing to take them for fear of how it will look.

So, you're either: a) in Japan and can't get holiday (therefore it's not just the Japanese who need your pity but your self) b) Live in Japan, but have left early but still feel the need to use your holiday to log on here c) Live overseas and want to critices Japan anyway

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So, you're either: a) in Japan and can't get holiday (therefore it's not just the Japanese who need your pity but your self) b) Live in Japan, but have left early but still feel the need to use your holiday to log on here c) Live overseas and want to critices Japan anyway

Or d) Smart enough to realise that trying to holiday at this time in Japan is probably one of the most stressing times of the year.

The last Christmas/New Year period I spent in Japan, I purposely decided to work and spend time around the town - noticably fewer people (entirely relative of course) and those that stayed seemed to be less stressed than those who actually went away. Still, it wouldn't be Japan without it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites