TOKYO -- Heavy snowfall hit extensive areas in northern and central Japan along the Sea of Japan coast on Dec. 29, affecting holidaymakers going back to their hometowns to spend the year-end and New Year's vacation.
The Japan Meteorological Agency has warned of heavy snowfalls and blizzards in Hokkaido as well as areas along the Sea of Japan coast in northeastern and central Japan among other areas.
According to Central Japan Railway Co., bullet trains were being forced to travel at reduced speeds on the Nagoya-Kyoto section of the Tokaido Shinkansen Line because of snowfall in central and western Japan. As a result, bullet trains on the line have been delayed by up to 65 minutes.
Many bullet trains are full of holidaymakers as the year-end and New Year's holiday period began on Dec. 29.
Services were completely suspended on Dec. 29 on the JR Ou Line between Niwasaka and Yonezawa, the Kitakami Line between Kitakami and Yokote and the Hanawa Line between Koma and Odate, all in northeastern Japan due to the snow. Trains were also delayed on some lines affected by the snow.
Many flights mainly to and from the northern island of Hokkaido and the Tohoku region in northeastern Japan have been cancelled, airline companies said.
A winter atmospheric pressure pattern that has brought the heavy snow is expected to last until around Dec. 30.