Shinkansen bullet train services and hundreds of flights were canceled as a strong typhoon made landfall on the Pacific coast of western Japan on Tuesday, affecting many people during the annual Bon holidays, according to the weather agency and operators.
In the city of Wakayama, a man in his 60s was found unconscious and remains in critical condition after being crushed by the outer wall of a building.
Several other injuries have also been reported across western Japan, including a woman in her 70s who was hit by the eaves of a building in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture.
Some 240,000 people were ordered to move to safety with a few tornadoes having formed but thankfully not causing major damage.
JR Central has said shinkansen services between Tokyo and Nagoya stations were greatly reduced on Tuesday and the bullet trains mostly operated without seat reservations. Although service suspensions were not planned for Monday and Wednesday, the operator warned passengers of the possibility of sudden changes.
Japan Airlines Co. said 19 flights, including to and from Itami airport in western Japan, had been canceled on Monday and another 240 flights on Tuesday were canceled as well, affecting around 24,800 people.
Around 650 people were forced to stay overnight at Kansai airport, located on an artificial island in Osaka Bay after rail and road access was cut off by the typhoon. Many people had to sleep at the airport, and the facility operator handed out sleeping bags and water to those stranded there.
A weary-looking 65-year-old woman from Taiwan said, "I hadn't expected something like this."
A 22-year-old university student from Okinawa, who had given up on his hopes of sightseeing in Kyoto, complained that it was cold overnight at the airport due to the strong air conditioning.
Major shinkansen stations such as JR Shin-Osaka Station, which would usually be packed with holidaymakers during the annual Bon summer holidays, were mostly deserted.
At 5 p.m. on Friday, the typhoon was located around 150 kilometers southeast of Cape Shionomisaki in Wakayama Prefecture and moving northwestward. It had an atmospheric pressure of 970 hectopascals with winds packing up to 180 km per hour, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
Unfortunately, the typhoon's approach coincided with the return rush of Bon holidaymakers. Due to the pandemic, many travelers were forced indoors. Understandably, once COVID-19 was legally downgraded to the same category as seasonal flu, many people were eager to travel. Sadly, the major vacation period for the first time since the pandemic was ruined.
On Sunday, some train stations, airports, and roads were congested with people opting to travel home from their Bon holidays earlier than planned.
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