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Travelers back in Tokyo on 1st weekend of capital's inclusion in gov't subsidy campaign

Tokyo Skytree's observatory Tembo Deck in the capital's Sumida Ward is seen crowded with visitors, on Oct. 3, 2020. (Mainichi/Kaho Kitayama)

TOKYO -- Tourists were seen back in Tokyo's terminal stations, its airport, and in sightseeing spots on Oct. 3 -- the first weekend after the capital was included in the government's "Go To" tourism subsidy campaign.

    Due to a then coronavirus case spike in the capital, Tokyo was excluded from the original July launch of the nationwide economy-boosting initiative, in which up to half of travel expenses are covered by subsidies. The central government added Tokyo to the program starting Oct. 1, after virus warning levels in the capital were lowered in September.

    A 42-year-old man who spoke to the Mainichi Shimbun at JR Tokyo Station's bullet train platform was headed with his family for Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo. "It's a refreshing feeling," the man said excitedly. He had to cancel his July reservation at a ryokan traditional Japanese inn due to the outbreak, but with Tokyo now included in the subsidy campaign, he was able to reserve discounted accommodation. He added that he "would like to make use of the campaign as much as possible."

    From the morning of Oct. 3, popular tourist spot Tokyo Skytree in Sumida Ward was crowded with visitors. Kozo Takebayashi, 69, an Osaka resident on a trip to Tokyo with his wife, said, "We refrained from traveling (because of the coronavirus) and could only go outside to a park in our neighborhood. We waited so long for when we would be able to travel again. I've always wanted to come to Skytree. It's a good day today."

    (Japanese original by Nana Hayashida, Tama General Bureau, and Kazushi Machidori, Integrated Digital News Center)

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