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JAPANESE FLEE TO HOMETOWNS TO HONOR FOREBEARS

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Hundreds of thousands of people flooded airports and highways Friday on their way out of the crowded Tokyo area at the onset of the annual summer holiday season.

Some 1,000 would-be travelers stood in line from early Friday at ticket counters at Tokyo's Haneda airport in central Tokyo hoping to be one of the few to get the chance to buy canceled plane tickets.Japan Airlines' officials said seats for domestic flights departing from the airport were 99.5 percent booked Friday. About 60 people spent Thursday night at the airport hoping to get standby seats.

At Narita international airport in northern Tokyo, some 43,000 travelers were expected to leave Japan on Friday alone with tens of thousands more expected to depart on Saturday and Sunday.

People in Japan traditionally return to their hometowns to worship the spirits of their ancestors during the annual summer break, or obon.