Published On: Sat, Apr 18th, 2015

Chinese tourists flock to Japan during cherry blossom season

blossomJapan_1601123cThe number of Chinese tourists visiting Japan has surged recently as the cherry blossoms enter their peak period of bloom, reports the Yangtze Evening News.

Some online travel sites have posted warnings that hotel rooms may be unavailable for those traveling to Japan during peak season.

Miao, employed at a foreign enterprise in China, had planned a family trip to Japan to see the cherry blossoms right after the Chinese New Year holiday in February, but was unable to book a decent place to stay by the end of March. She had to ask her Japanese colleague to let her family stay at his friend’s rural home in Chiba prefecture, adjacent to Tokyo.

Even though Miao’s friends all praised the beautiful cherry blossoms when they saw Miao’s pictures posted online, they could not help but notice that there were crowds everywhere. “You have to line up to take a picture,” said one friend.

Miao had prepare instant food such as dumplings at the home she had been staying at before leaving because of the impossibility of finding a place to eat during the long tours.

The occupancy rates of business hotels in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka and Kyodo have risen to between 80-90%. The influx of Chinese tourists wiped out bookings in the Tokyo metropolitan area in early April, according to the report.

Miao said that the majority of tourists in some famous cherry blossom scenic sports were Chinese. Japanese shop owners even hired temp overseas Chinese students to serve the enormous number of Chinese tourists, Miao said. Shops display price tags in Japanese as well as in Chinese and China’s popular UnionPay cards are accepted at checkout.

Some Japanese stores go out of their way to hire Chinese instructors to teach Chinese customs, such as their preference for the search engine Baidu, instead of Google.

Before 2014, the number of Japanese touring China outnumbered Chinese touring Japan, but this year, the trend could possibly reverse, mainly because of sharp drops in air fare after the Chinese New Year, the loosening of visa restrictions, the depreciation of the Japanese yen and other factors.

Japan has become the hottest destination for Chinese tourists, and Chinese can be heard wherever one goes at Ueno Park in Tokyo.

Statistics showed that Chinese tourists spend about an average of 12,000 yuan (US$1,933) on tours, and 7,000 yuan (US$1,130) on shopping.

Chinese tourists could help stimulate the slow rebound of the Japanese economy in the wake of an increase in the consumption tax, said the report.

In view of the lure of Japanese tours, experts have advised avoid peak seasons or choosing newly devised tour routes rather than traditional scenic spots.

They could also do some research to learn local customs to make the tours more pleasant and avoid misunderstandings of the local cultural nuances.