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Crowds returning from New Year holidays sparse at Tokyo Station shinkansen platforms

A Tokaido Shinkansen platform at JR Tokyo Station is seen sparse of crowds due to the resurgence of the coronavirus on Jan. 3, 2021. (Mainichi/Daiki Takikawa)

TOKYO -- There were few crowds of people returning to the capital from New Year holidays seen on shinkansen platforms at JR Tokyo Station on Jan. 3 due to the resurgence of the coronavirus.

    However, some bullet trains had an occupancy rate of 90% and one passenger commented, "It wasn't as deserted as I had imagined."

    At Tokyo Station shinkansen platforms on Jan. 3, families carrying souvenirs got off bullet trains one after another. Unlike the usual hustle and bustle seen at the end of the New Year holiday, there were no scenes where the station was packed with passengers. Even so, Etsuko Nakamura, 52, a part-time worker in Saitama Prefecture who was returning from her parents' house in Osaka, in western Japan, said, "Reserved seats were considerably less crowded than usual but about 70% were occupied. There were more passengers than I expected."

    A 20-year-old Tokyo man who had visted his parents in his home prefecture of Shizuoka for the first time in a year said, "The nonreserved seats were only 10 to 20% occupied and the car was almost empty." He said he had been thoroughly taking measures to prevent coronavirus infection by sanitizing and checking his body temperature for several days. "I was worried but I'm glad I was able to spend some time with my family."

    According to Japan Railway group companies, nonreserved seat occupancy rates on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line on Jan. 3 were as little as less than 10%, but some trains saw 90% of their seats occupied. Similarly, there were trains with a 90% nonreserved seat occupancy rate on the inbound line of the Joetsu Shinkansen.

    (Japanese original by Kazushi Machidori, Integrated Digital News Center)

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