Japan's Nishi Kyushu Shinkansen Line boosts local tourism

Japan's Nishi Kyushu Shinkansen Line boosts local tourism

Saga, Sept. 26 - The Nishi Kyushu Shinkansen Line connecting Nagasaki and Saga's southwestern Japan prefectures of Nagasaki and Saga, which opened one year ago, has increased local tourism and efforts to promote migration to areas served by the bullet train line.

It is still uncertain whether the central and Saga governments can work out a plan to extend bullet train services to Shin-Tosu Station to reach the Kyushu Shinkansen Line, enabling passengers to get to Hakata Station in Fukuoka Prefecture, a Saga neighbor, without transfers.

As of Sept. 15, more than 2.37 million passengers had used the line, operated by Kyushu Railway Co., or JR Kyushu. Many tourists have been visited along the route, which opened on Sept. 23, 2022, fueled by government efforts to spur tourism and economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

Taishoya, a 'ryokan' Japanese-style inn at the center of a hot spring resort, said it served more than 42,000 guests between September and the end of last month, up by about 40 pct from the same period four years ago.

The vice president of Taishoya and also the chief of the local tourism association, Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, said that the number of visitors has exceeded levels marked prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The question is whether many visitors will come after the end of the government's tourism promotion initiative, he said.

Yamaguchi, who is a Nobel Prize-winning Japanese physicist, said.

The Nishi Kyushu Shinkansen Line has made it easier to travel to Saga-Takeo Station, which has become easier due to the opening of the Takeo-Onsen Station. Passengers transfer to and from conventional train lines through the northern terminal station of the line, while the number of express trains to Fukuoka has increased.

By taking advantage of the convenient transportation environment, the city of Takeo has introduced measures to support people moving to the city, such as allowing workers and students to take advantage of commuter passes.

The city, which had been experiencing population declines, experienced a net inflow of 143 residents between last September and July this year.

a municipal official said s development has been met with skepticism.

However, there are still obstacles to extension of the Nishi Kyushu Shinkansen services to Shin-Tosu Station to connect with the Kyushu Shinkansen Line.

The government of JR Kyushu and the Nagasaki Prefectural Government are eager to embrace the Nishi Kyushu Shinkansen activities between Shin-Tosu and takeso-onsen stations in order to boost convenience and profitability. Saga is fiercely opposed to construction of a full-standard Shinkansen line for the section, which the central government wants to build, because of worries over huge costs and a reduction in conventional line services.

The two sides had discussions from various perspectives over the issue from 2020, but talks have not been held since February this year. The negotiations remain deadlocked, causing locals to remain stuck in their homes.