Nikko Toshogu Shrine Feels Pinch of State of Emergency

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The deserted grounds of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, on Saturday.

In a sign of the times, the famous Nikko Toshogu Shrine was seen almost deserted on the first weekend since Tochigi Prefecture was among seven prefectures added to the state of emergency stemming from the recent surge in the coronavirus.

According to the shrine, a World Cultural Heritage Site, the number of visitors on Saturday was 664, down significantly from the 4,700 or so in the same period last year.

Winter has always been a low season for tourism to the shrine, but since the government suspended the Go To Travel tourism campaign in December last year, the number of tourists has continued to fall.

“With the declaration of the state of emergency, the number has decreased even further,” a shrine official said.

The female owner of a nearby souvenir shop, which has seen few customers, said, “If all the stores are closed, the tourists will have no place to shelter from the cold. I want to stay open as long as there is no request to close from the prefecture.”