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Expect major travel delays during Japan’s Golden Week

TOKYO — Japan’s highways, train stations and airports are expected to be clogged with travelers when Golden Week begins Saturday.

The number of travelers dropped last year as the nation was reeling from the March 11 Tohoku earthquake. But more than 20 million people are expected to travel within Japan and abroad during this year’s holiday, according to the JTB Corps travel agency.

The Japan Road Traffic Information Center is warning drivers to expect traffic jams as long as 28 miles on highways as well as congestion on local roads near tourist spots, such as Mount Takao in Tokyo, Zushi and Kamakura in Kanagawa prefecture, Miyajima in Hiroshima prefecture, Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki prefecture and Ocean Expo Park in Okinawa prefecture.

Reservations on bullet trains are up 147 percent since last year, according to the Central Japan Railway Company. Officials estimate the peak to be May 3 for trains leaving Tokyo and May 6 for returning trains.

The peaks at airports are expected to be April 28 and May 3 for international travel and May 3-4 for domestic flights, according to JTB.

Golden Week is an annual series of Japanese holidays that begin April 29 and end May 5. Travel increases substantially in and around Golden Week because many businesses are closed.

kusumotoh@pstripes.osd.mil

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