Japan saw an estimated 1,817,500 foreign visitors in March, equivalent to 65.8 percent of the level seen in March 2019 before the novel coronavirus outbreak, government data showed Wednesday.

The total was up 27.5-fold from a year before and the highest since the country lifted its pandemic-prompted ban on individual, non-prearranged trips last October, it said.

Japan's cherry blossom season and the resumption of foreign cruise ships docking at Japanese ports for the first time in about three years helped bring more visitors to the country, the Japan National Tourism Organization said.

By country or region, the most arrivals came from South Korea at 466,800, followed by Taiwan at 278,900, the United States with 203,000 and Hong Kong with 144,900.

Visitors from mainland China numbered 75,700, coming in sixth place after those from Thailand at 108,000.

Arrivals from China have remained sluggish as Beijing's ban on group tours has yet to be lifted. But the number of entries has doubled from the February figure of 36,200, helped by resumptions of more direct flights between China and Japan.

Meanwhile, the number of Japanese who went overseas numbered 694,300, up from 70,678 in March last year but still 64 percent less than the same month in 2019.