Golden Week Rush: Overseas Flights Soar As Japan Preps For Imperial Succession Ceremonies

Tourists pose for photos with the Marina Bay Sands and the Merlion statue (unseen) at a popular tourist spot along Marina Bay in Singapore July 24, 2015. (Photo: REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo)

The 10-day Golden Week period is nearing and overseas bookings made by Japanese travelers have increased significantly as Japan prepares for the highly-anticipated Imperial succession.

According to the Japan Times, data from January revealed that overseas reservations made for April 27 to May 6 more than doubled compared to figures recorded last year. A JTB Corp. official confirmed the news.

This year is a huge one for the Japanese royal family as it was previously announced that Crown Prince Naruhito will be crowned as the new Emperor. The succession ceremony is part of Japan's annual Golden Week that lasts for 10 days.

Japanese citizens wait for this annual period wherein they are allowed to enjoy extended vacations. A H.I.S. Co. official said "trips to popular destinations were mostly sold out in mid-November," boosting the travel industry.

Most of the destinations that saw a significant increase in reservations include the United States and Europe. Cairns, Australia bookings also secured the largest growth rate from 2018 as data indicated reservations for trips to the country increased eleven times more for this year's Golden Week holidays.

Aside from solo trip reservations, package tours to Australia, the U.S., and Europe, became a mainstay among Japanese travelers who have decided to get out of their hometowns during the Golden Week.

While cruise ship tours were previously popular among older people, a JTB official revealed that this year's reservations were mostly made by younger families who acquired luxury cruise ship bookings. Sold out reservations were made for Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government continues to prepare for the new regime that will take over Emperor Akihito's Heisei reign. According to The Mainichi News, officials are planning to inform the incoming Emperor of the era name that his regime will use before it is announced to the public on April 1.

The process of selecting a new era name for Crown Prince Naruhito's incoming regime with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requesting commissions scholars for candidate names. The proposed era names will be reviewed before one is chosen for signing and approval under Emperor Akihito.

Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate the Imperial Throne on April 30. After the abdication rites, Crown Prince Naruhito will be enthroned as the new Emperor on May 1. The event will mark the first time in 200 years wherein a living Japanese monarch abdicates the throne.

It was reported last month that female members of the Imperial family have been barred from attending major succession rites. On the other hand, an exemption will be provided for female Cabinet ministers who are not related to the Imperial succession.

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