NILS Fukuoka Times

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What’s Happening Now in Fukuoka & Japan April 2024


Japan records highest-ever monthly visitor numbers in March – Nationwide

More than three million foreigners visited Japan in March, a record for a single month, government data showed in a major boost for its tourism sector. The total of 3.08 million represented an increase of 69.5 percent from March 2023 and a 11.6-percent gain compared to March 2019 before the pandemic battered global tourism, the Japan National Tourism Organization said. On top of generally rising tourism demand, factors included the spring cherry blossom season and the Easter break helped boost visitor numbers.

Record numbers arrived from overseas including from India, Germany, Taiwan and the United States. Tourism to Japan has been booming since pandemic-era border restrictions were lifted and the government has been working hard to boost visitor numbers. But this has not been universally welcomed, including in Kyoto where locals have complained of snap-happy tourists harassing the city’s immaculately dressed geisha. These “women of art” work for a living — as they have for centuries — in teahouses in Kyoto’s picturesque Gion district where they perform traditional Japanese dance, music and games.

This summer, hikers using the most popular route to climb Mount Fuji will be charged 2,000 yen each, with numbers capped to ease congestion and improve safety. The mayor of the western metropolis Osaka has also said he is considering charging a new fee to foreign tourists, separate to an existing tax on hotel stays.

Alpine sightseeing route showcasing giant snow walls opens in ToyamaToyama Prefecture

A sightseeing route that runs through the Tateyama mountain range featuring tall snow walls opened for this year’s tourist season. The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, typically closed during winter, connects the town of Tateyama in Toyama Prefecture and the city of Omachi in Nagano Prefecture in the Northern Alps via bus and cable car. The route is open until the end of November. This year, the snow walls created by snow removal work reached 14 meters. The 500-meter pathway, named “Yuki no Otani,” is located near the Murodo plateau at an altitude of 2,450 meters.

Takeshi Nishizawa, a 62-year-old company employee from Ibaraki Prefecture, who visited the snow corridor with his wife for the first time, was impressed. This year will mark the end of a 3.7-kilometer trolley bus service that runs inside a tunnel piercing through part of the mountain range. The trolley bus service, the only one of its kind in Japan, is scheduled to end on November 30th.

Sapporo sees earliest 25 C day of any year since records began – Hokkaido Prefecture

Temperatures in Japan’s northern city of Sapporo passed 25 degrees Celsius at the earliest point of any year on record, a weather agency official said. Sapporo, the main city on the island of Hokkaido, hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics and each February holds a snow festival where massive ice sculptures draw tens of thousands of visitors.

It is the earliest that temperatures in the city have passed 25 degrees Celsius, which the JMA classifies as a “summer’s day”, since records began there in 1877. Over 30 degrees is classed as “mid-summer” while over 35 is “extremely hot”, according to the JMA’s system.

On average between 1991 and 2020, the highest temperature in Sapporo on April 15 was 11.5 degrees Celsius, the JMA says. Previously, the earliest 25-degree day in the city was April 20, 1998, when the mercury reached 25.2 degrees. Globally, this year has already been marked by climate extremes and rising greenhouse gas emissions, spurring fresh calls for more rapid action to limit global warming. Every month since June 2023 has beaten its own “hottest-ever” tag — and March 2024 was no exception, according to Europe’s climate monitor.

The JMA also says that climate change is making Japan’s famous cherry blossoms appear earlier on average. Last year’s cherry blossoms, or sakura, began to flower in Tokyo on March 14, tied for the earliest ever alongside 2020 and 2021. This year, however, the delicate pink and white blossoms arrived later than usual because of cold weather.


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