Japan saw a continued recovery in foreign arrivals in May to an estimated 1,898,900, equivalent to 68.5 percent of the May 2019 figure prior to the coronavirus outbreak, government data showed Wednesday.

The figure surpassed April's recovery level of 66.6 percent, marking the highest number since February 2020, when arrivals began to plummet due to the pandemic.

The Nakamise shopping street running to Senso-ji temple in Tokyo's Asakusa district is crowded with foreign tourists and others on May 17, 2023. (Kyodo)

May is considered an off-season following Japan's cherry blossom season, but the month saw favorable results as arrivals from countries such as South Korea and Canada increased from April, the Japan National Tourism Organization said.

Arrivals from areas including Singapore and the United States surpassed levels seen in May 2019, it said.

Compared to May 2022, the number of foreign visitors this year increased 12.9-fold.

Excluding visitors from China, which continues to restrict overseas group travel for its citizens, Japan had 1,764,500 foreign arrivals, with a recovery rate equivalent to 87.5 percent of 2019 levels.

By country or region, the most arrivals came from South Korea at 515,700, followed by Taiwan at 303,300, the United States at 183,400 and Hong Kong at 154,400.

Visitors from China numbered 134,400. The figure was an 82.2 percent decrease compared to May 2019, but was an increase of 24.1 percent from April, believed to be due to Japan easing its border restrictions and an increase in the number of flights between the two countries.

Meanwhile, the number of Japanese who went overseas numbered 675,700, a five-fold increase from May last year, but still 53.0 percent less than the same month in 2019.

The number of departures increased by about 116,000 compared to April, as the Japan Tourism Agency and Japan Association of Travel Agents has promoted overseas travel.