Narita-based bus lines reaching out to distant tourist spots

The Japan Times

The trend is a result of collaborative efforts being made by Narita International Airport Corp., bus lines and municipalities with popular tourist resources. The plan is to encourage arriving tourists to go directly to the destinations being promoted. This spring, bus operators began offering services from Narita to the cities of Niigata, Toyama and Kanazawa by extending existing routes. These were joined on Friday by a new bus route to Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture. Nikko, north of Tokyo, is a popular tourism draw for Americans and Europeans but has recently been generating buzz among Taiwanese.


JR railways to use seafloor censors to provide swifter train-stopping alert in event of offshore temblors

The Japan Times

Three railways signed a deal with a state research institute Monday to implement a system to halt shinkansen trains more swiftly in the event of a major offshore quake near the Japanese archipelago. The emergency stop signals of the new system, to be introduced Wednesday on certain sections of the Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen lines operated by East Japan Railway Co., activate 10 to 30 seconds faster than the current system by utilizing seismic data captured by a quake sensor on the Pacific seafloor, the railroads and institute said. JR East, Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) and West Japan Railway Co. agreed with the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience on data distribution for railway safety to prevent disasters involving bullet trains, following a series of powerful earthquakes in Japan since the massive March 2011 quake in the country's northeast. The system will be introduced first on sections where earthquake data from the sensor located off the Boso Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture will be utilized -- the Tohoku Shinkansen Line section between Tokyo and Fukushima Prefecture and the Joetsu Shinkansen Line section between Tokyo and an area around Kumagaya in Saitama Prefecture. Regarding the Tokaido Shinkansen Line connecting Tokyo and the Osaka area and the Sanyo Shinkansen Line linking the Osaka area and Fukuoka Prefecture, operated by JR Tokai and JR West, respectively, the system is planned to be introduced around spring 2019.


Holiday exodus peaks, clogging airports, train stations

The Japan Times

The New Year's travel exodus peaked Thursday as people jammed airports and train stations for destinations in Japan and abroad. On Thursday alone, around 50,000 people were expected to leave the country from Narita airport, 33,400 from Kansai airport in Osaka, and some 8,800 from Centrair Airport in the Chubu region around Nagoya, airport operators said. "I want to photograph Hawaii's beautiful scenery," said 40-year-old Saitama resident Hikoichi Sekine before departing from Narita airport with his wife. Congestion was also seen at Tokyo's Haneda airport, where security lines stretched for about 30 meters. At Kansai airport, Osakan Izumi Seguchi, 28, said she will visit Finland with a colleague and is looking forward to buying dishes and other items.


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.


Rural Japan rail tours push scenic, luxurious journeys into the unknown

The Japan Times

When planning a trip to Japan, tourists are most likely to pack destinations like Mount Fuji, Kyoto and Akihabara all into the space of a few days. But for those who have been there and done that, railways are offering a fresh alternative -- a laid-back ride on a sightseeing train through the countryside, exploring the unexplored while accompanied by the pleasures of sake and local cuisine. As tourist numbers continue to swell, Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka -- the most popular destinations -- are suffering from a shortage of accommodations while areas outside these bustling cities are jealous for being left out of the action. The government is thus thinking of ways to lure more visitors to the countryside to support rural areas, and the nation's vast railway network is naturally playing a role in the initiative. Seibu Railway Co. just launched a "restaurant train" between Tokyo and the city of Chichibu in mountainous Saitama Prefecture.