Foreign visitor spending hits record in Japan as 'overtourism' concern returns

TOKYO, Oct 19 (NHK) - Foreign visitors are back in Japan and putting more money into the economy than ever before. Their spending hit a quarterly record, backed by a sharp recovery in arrival numbers and the weaker yen.

Preliminary figures from the Japan Tourism Agency show that overseas travelers spent nearly 1.4 trillion yen, or about 9.3 billion dollars, in the July-to-September period.

Officials say average spending per person was roughly 1,400 dollars.

Data released by the Japan National Tourism Organization reinforce the picture. It estimates the number of foreign visitors in September stood at 2.18 million. That's close to the level in the same month in 2019 before the pandemic.

But this means there are renewed discussions on the issue of "overtourism." The government has compiled fresh measures to deal with it.

The concentration of visitors at popular sightseeing spots is inconveniencing local residents and choking public transportation networks. Littering and disruptive behavior are also problems.

The measures are expected to include added fees for using trains at the busiest times, and efforts to point tourists to less-crowded routes.

Officials also plan to charge taxes or fees for visiting certain tourist spots. About 20 areas nationwide are to be subject to the new measures.

The Nagasaki Lantern Festival concluded Sunday with large crowds enjoying the traditional Chinese art of "Bian Lian," or face-changing performances.

The "Baika-sai" plum blossom festival held at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine over the weekend signaled the arrival of spring in Kyoto.

After a hiatus of three years, the Kinishita Circus, one of the world's three major circuses, has finally rolled back into Osaka.

As severe cold continues every day in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, where the temperature plummeted to minus 26.6C on Saturday, a phenomenon known as a "Sun Pillar," was captured, where diamond dust reflects in the sunlight.