Japanese travelers emerge on 1st advisory-free weekend

TOKYO. KAZINFORM People started traveling en masse again in Japan on Saturday, a day after the government lifted its last-remaining advisories recommending against inter-prefecture travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The government, however, still faces a difficult task to keep the spread of coronavirus to a minimum while accelerating economic activity to help businesses recover, Kyodo reports.

At JR Tokyo Station, face mask-wearing East Japan Railway Co. officials were busy serving luggage-carrying travelers at service windows partitioned by vinyl sheets installed as part of anti-virus measures.

Kota Kikuchi, a 10-year-old fifth-grader from Tokyo, was heading to Tochigi Prefecture by shinkansen bullet train to take part in horseback riding club activities with his mother, 42.

«It's been a while (since I have traveled) because I was not able to go to the club due to the coronavirus,» Kikuchi said.

The central government on Friday withdrew its request that people in Tokyo and the neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa, as well as Hokkaido in northern Japan, refrain from traveling across prefectural borders.

The areas were the last in the country to see the request lifted and were also the last group of prefectures where a state of emergency was lifted by the government in May.

Natsuko Negishi, a 51-year-old housewife from Tokyo, was heading to Sendai, northeastern Japan, on Saturday to meet up with a friend for a trip to the Akiu hot spring resort in Miyagi Prefecture.

«I heard some people are worried about travelers arriving from Tokyo, where infection cases have been reported,» Negishi said. «We will take extra precautions so as not to upset them.»

A 41-year-old woman from Tokyo was on her way to visit her in-laws in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, northeastern Japan, with her 6-year-old and 1-year-old daughters.

«They will see their granddaughters for the first time since the New Year. I'm sure they will be excited,» she said.

The elder girl said, «I can't wait to play video games with grandma.»

Tourists are returning to popular sightseeing spots outside the capital as well.

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