In 2019, Japan enjoyed its highest foreign visitor numbers on record, rounding off a ten year period of growth in the nation’s tourism sector, with more international travelers using Japanese railways than any other year throughout the decade.
Visitors also increasingly chose to travel with a JR Pass as the number of sales of passes doubled over the course of the year.
Japan’s 2019 Tourist Travel Boom in Numbers
- The number of foreign visitors to Japan reached a 12 month high of 2.3 million in September 2019.
- 68,400 British tourists visited Japan in October 2019, enough to fill 51 peak-time Shinkansen trains.
- Japan ends the decade with its highest tourism stats overall in the last ten years (over 32.5 m foreign visitors).
- In 2019, Japan welcomed 3% more train passengers than in 2018, reaching 25.6 m train travelers.
- JR Passes sold during 2019 doubled on the previous year with 44% more US citizens purchasing a pass as well as 8.5% more UK travelers.
- Japan carries 4.5 m more rail passengers per year than Germany’s railways despite having 28,000 fewer rail routes.
- The number of international travelers to Japan in September 2019 reached 2.3 m (a 5.2% increase compared to 2018).
Japan’s Groundbreaking Transport Plans For 2020
Japan is aiming to target 40m overseas visitors during 2020, with high numbers of holidaymakers expected for the Tokyo Olympics.
This year will also see the launch of the N700S Shinkansen trains on the Tokaido Shinkansen line between Tokyo and Osaka. The N700S class is the first upgraded bullet train rolling stock to be introduced in 13 years and has the potential to reach speeds of 360km/h.
A new station is to be opened on Tokyo’s Yamanote line to serve the events taking place in the Tokyo Bay area during the Olympics. Takanawa Gateway station will be the first new stop on the Yamanote line for 48 years.
The Tokyo Olympics will also allegedly play host to 100 autonomous vehicles, planned to be in operation around the new station and the Olympic venues. These self-driving cars will be provided by national automakers Nissan and Toyota.