Trains, planes and automobiles to celebrate Golden Week

The Japan Times

If you're looking for some mundane distractions to get you through the holiday period, Shukan Taishu (May 6-13) has got just the thing. Its "Reiwa Commemorative Edition" introduces unusual rides. Not to be outdone, a park in Tochigi has camels for the same purpose, as does another in Chiba offering elephant rides. At Hakkeijima Sea Paradise in Yokohama, visitors from age 10 (who can prove they can swim for a distance of 25 meters) may emulate the "boy on a dolphin" theme and ride atop a friendly beluga whale. Two-wheeled Segway personal transporters are available for inexpensive rental at Showa Memorial Park in the city of Tachikawa.


Hokuriku shinkansen threatening region's air links with Tokyo

The Japan Times

But there is unease in the region as the number of air travelers has dropped dramatically, threatening the viability of flights and the small regional airports they support. International flights, too, may be affected, as it has become harder for arriving passengers to hop a connection to Tokyo. The Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, which links Nagano Station with Kanazawa Station in Ishikawa Prefecture, went into service on March 14, 2015, offering seamless bullet train travel from Tokyo. From March 27 this year, All Nippon Airways reduced the frequency of round-trip flights on its routes connecting Haneda with Komatsu Airport in Ishikawa and Toyama Airport. The six daily flights on each route were reduced to four.


DiDi Mobility Japan starts taxi-hailing service in Aichi

The Japan Times

NAGOYA – DiDi Mobility Japan Corp. began offering its taxi-hailing service, used via smartphones, in Aichi Prefecture on Wednesday. Aichi is the ninth area in Japan where the service, offered by the Tokyo-based joint venture between SoftBank Corp. and Chinese ride-hailing giant DiDi Chuxing, is available. The eight other areas include Osaka. DiDi Mobility Japan aims to expand its service to a total of 13 areas within fiscal 2019. In Aichi, the taxi-hailing service has become available in 12 cities, including the prefectural capital of Nagoya, and four other locations such as Chubu Centrair International Airport.


Japan begins 10-day Golden Week holiday ahead of Imperial succession

The Japan Times

An unprecedented 10-day Golden Week holiday started Saturday ahead of the Imperial succession, with bullet train stations, airports and expressways crowded with travelers heading to their hometowns, major cities and overseas destinations. From the morning, there were long lines at check-in and luggage drop counters at Tokyo's Haneda airport as the rush of travelers leaving the capital during the holiday peaked, while the occupancy rate of nonreserved cars of many bullet trains topped 100 percent. With Emperor Akihito's abdication set on April 30 and the ascent of Crown Prince Naruhito the following day, areas around the Imperial Palace, where related ceremonies will be held -- and other popular spots in Japan -- attracted a wave of tourists. "This will be a good memory as I wanted to come here before the Imperial era changes (from Heisei to Reiwa)," said Junko Suzuki, 48, a housewife from Akita Prefecture. Iichi Shimada, 61, a company employee who was on a one-day bus tour from Yokohama said, "I hope Reiwa will be an era without wars or natural disasters, as the Heisei Era saw many disasters."


Double-decker bullet trains soon to be phased out

The Japan Times

The last double-decker bullet trains on the Joetsu Shinkansen Line connecting Tokyo and Niigata will be withdrawn from service in a few years, a railway source said Saturday. East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) plans to replace the E4 series, the last remaining two-deck shinkansen, with the single-deck E7 series from fiscal 2018 to improve speed and comfort, according to the source. The double-deck carriages of the E4 series, which debuted in 1997, had a seating capacity of 1,634, the largest in the world among high-speed trains. The E4 series trains initially RUN on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line connecting Tokyo and Aomori, but ended service in 2012. The E7 series, jointly developed by JR East and West Japan Railway Co., will be introduced on the Joetsu Shinkansen Line from fiscal 2018, while the E4 series trains will gradually be replaced with E7 series carriages, the source said.