Transportation networks clogged as Golden Week holiday period nears end

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Heavy traffic is seen on Tokyo-bound lanes of the Tomei Expressway in Ebina, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Thursday.

The tail end of Golden Week travel peaked Thursday, as vacationers wrapped up the first holiday season in about three years that was not spoiled by COVID pandemic restrictions.

Transportation networks across the country were crowded with people returning from holidays or hometown visits. Reservations for domestic flights to Tokyo and Osaka exceeded 80% on Thursday and most flights were fully booked, according to airline companies.

People lugging large suitcases filled the domestic arrivals terminal at Haneda Airport in Tokyo. “I haven’t been able to visit my parents for a long time because of COVID-19, so it was nice that I could show them the face of their grandchild for the first time in ages,” said a traveler from Sakura, Chiba Prefecture, who visited his parents in Nara Prefecture over Golden Week.

According to the Japan Road Traffic Information Center, traffic jams on expressways bound for major cities peaked from Thursday afternoon to early evening. At about 4 p.m., cars were stuck in a 43-kilometer-long traffic jam on the Kanetsu Expressway, starting near the Takasaka rest area in Higashi-Matsuyama, Saitama Prefecture.

Trains were packed as well. According to Central Japan Railway Co., some non-reserved cars on the Tokaido Shinkansen line were operating with a passenger capacity of 120%.