A crowd of tourists are seen at Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto, western Japan March 30, 2023. REUTERS/Issei Kato

This week’s travel news features several noteworthy developments. In one country, there is consideration of prohibiting airplane pilots from using fragrance, progress is being made on completing the world’s most popular unfinished building, and the much-anticipated Fat Bear Week has begun in a grand manner.

Every year, millions of tourists in Japan utilize the high-speed rail network for their travel needs, swiftly traversing between Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. However, the cost of doing so has recently risen significantly. As of October 1, the price of a Japan Rail (JR) Pass, which allows foreigners to purchase and reserve Shinkansen tickets in advance, has surged by 65%. The cost of a seven-day pass now stands at ¥50,000 (Ksh.49,277), up from ¥29,650 (Ksh.29,221). Nonetheless, children aged 6 to 11 can still avail of half-price tickets for train journeys.

Notably, this isn’t the only train-related development affecting tourists. The beloved Tokyo-Osaka bullet train has decided to discontinue its on-train snack cart service, which means passengers may need to bring their own ramen noodles.

Furthermore, another significant change for tourists is that one of Japan’s iconic attractions has introduced a visitor fee for the first time in its history. The Itsukushima shrine, located outside of Hiroshima and recognized for its striking bright orange torii gate seemingly floating in a lake, was recently visited by President Joe Biden. Fortunately for him, he visited just before the introduction of visitor fees on October 1. The island has now started charging 100 yen for a single visit or 300 yen for multiple visits, citing concerns related to managing large crowds.

Japan is currently grappling with the issue of overtourism, especially since it only fully reopened to tourists last fall.

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