Crowds in 95 percent of major cities in Japan during the Golden Week holiday period increased from a year ago amid eased coronavirus measures, private sector data showed Thursday.
But while travel particularly boomed in regional areas, some commercial districts in major cities saw less crowding, indicating that the tourism industry has not yet fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to analysis by Kyodo News based on the data.
Kyodo News analyzed the data from anonymous location information obtained by a smartphone application created by IT firm X-Locations Inc.
The data looked into the number of people within a 500-meter radius of 60 train stations in major cities nationwide during the holidays, comparing it to the average daily number of visitors during non-business days of the Golden Week period in other years.
The data showed that crowds increased this year in 57 of the 60 train stations and surrounding areas, which often double as commercial districts.
The turnout of people increased from last year by more than 20 percent in the cities of Morioka, Gifu and Hamamatsu, but decreased by more than 30 percent in major districts such as Shibuya in Tokyo and Namba in Osaka, according to the data.
"Lifestyles have changed due to the pandemic," said Makoto Sakuma of the NLI Research Institute, adding that "while people take shinkansen bullet trains to travel, they tend not to go to commercial areas (around the stations.)"
"Many people went sightseeing in regional cities," an X-Locations spokesperson said, noting that the increase in crowds was noticeable in these areas.
The total daily average of visitors in all 60 locations was 10.5 million people, a 20.8 percent decrease from the 13.3 million in the pre-pandemic year of 2019, the data showed.
Japan's Golden Week is composed of several public holidays within a seven-day period, allowing people to take several consecutive days off work in addition to the weekend.