Traveling in Japan: Peak Period for New Year Holidays

This information is applicable for all tourists planning to visit Japan during the New Year Holidays. The New Year Holidays, as referred to in this post, are December 26th to January 5th.

As one might imagine, people in Japan see their family members during this time of year. All of the schools are closed, and most companies will also be closed. The time frame depends on each company, but mostly December 28t – January 5th. This will result in mass travel, and every method of transportation will be very busy with heavy traffic jams on many highways.

Here’s the prediction of peak times for each method of transportation.

Airplane (domestic)
From Tokyo to other places: December 29th
From other places to Tokyo: January 3rd

Airplane (international)
From Japan to foreign countries: December 26th
From foreign countries to Japan: January 3rd

Shinkansen (super express)

From Tokyo to other places: December 30th
From other places to Tokyo: January 3rd

Traffic jams (highways)
From Tokyo to other places: January 2nd and 3rd
From other places to Tokyo: January 2nd and 3rd

For those who use Shinkansen, be sure to make a reservation if at all possible. Or at least be mentally prepared and make a plan for the situation. For example, go to the station as early as possible, and join the line waiting for Shikansen’s non-reserved seats (there should be one or two carriages that anyone without reservation can get on). In that case, it’s better to get on at the terminal station(for example, when going to Kyoto from Tokyo, try to get on from Tokyo station, not from Shinagawa station).

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