Photo/IllutrationPassengers prepare to depart from Narita Airport on April 27, the start of a 10-day period of national holidays. (Saki Rin)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

An unprecedented 10-day Golden Week holiday period made possible by the planned abdication of Emperor Akihito and ascension of his eldest son kicked off April 27, triggering a mass exodus of people taking advantage of the break.

Officials of Narita International Airport Corp. said about 60,700 passengers were expected to leave on April 27, the largest number since the facility in Chiba Prefecture outside Tokyo opened in 1978.

Popular destinations included resort areas, such as Hawaii, along with short hops to South Korea as well as Europe.

May 5 is expected to be the peak day for returning passengers.

Trains were also packed as families left for extended vacations.

The Japan Railway companies operating Shinkansen bullet trains said many of the Nozomi trains on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line were leaving Tokyo Station on the morning of April 27 without a single empty non-reserved seat.

Expressways are also expected to be heavily congested during Golden Week.

Officials of the Japan Road Traffic Information Center said outbound expressways would be congested during the morning hours, with heaviest traffic expected on May 3. Inbound expressways are expected to become busier in the evening hours, with peak traffic expected on May 4 and 5.