This years O-Bon holiday could last nine days for some workers

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For many in Japan, this year’s Bon holiday period in mid-August may be expanded to nine consecutive days, but not everyone is excited about the idea of a long break due to fears that their work will keep piling up.

Mountain Day, a national holiday established in 2016 to encourage people to become familiar with mountains and be thankful for their benefits, is on Aug. 11. Because that falls this year on a Sunday, the following Monday becomes a substitute holiday, creating a three-day weekend.

The Bon holiday period generally runs from Aug. 13 to Aug. 15, although there are some regional differences. Workers can create a nine-day holiday period if they take Friday, Aug. 16 off, leading into another weekend.

Congestion is expected on trains and highways during the holiday period as people travel and visit their hometowns. Japan Railways Group officials said a spike in reservations was expected during Bon.

Reservations for shinkansen and limited express trains between Aug. 9 and Aug. 18 have seen a 2 percent increase over last year, JR officials said. The Sanyo Shinkansen and Kyushu Shinkansen were in particularly high demand, they said. The mass exodus from major cities is expected to peak on Aug. 10, the first day of the nine-day period.

In an online survey by travel booking website airtrip.jp, which polled 748 people ranging in age from their 20s to 70s about their summer vacation plans, 62.7 percent said they were happy to take a vacation, but 13.0 percent were unhappy due to fears about work stacking up and congestion.

A 40-year-old man who responded to the survey said that he would prefer to be able to take holidays based on his convenience rather than at set times of the year.

Only 13.0 percent of respondents said they were planning to take a full nine days off.

Similar mixed feelings about long holiday periods emerged during this year’s unprecedented 10-day Golden Week, from April 27 to May 6, which was created by special holidays related to the accession to the throne of Emperor Naruhito.

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