First Japanese flight kicks off aurora season

The northern lights draw tourists from around the world to Fairbanks. (Photo by Heather Bryant)

The northern lights draw tourists from around the world to Fairbanks. (Photo by Heather Bryant)

The first aurora borealis seekers from Japan have arrived in Alaska’s interior to launch the unofficial beginning of the northern lights viewing season.

The first Japan Airlines flight of the season landed in Fairbanks Wednesday with 174 passengers.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the flight from Narita Airport near Tokyo is the first of six Japan Airlines charters scheduled to arrive in Fairbanks through Sept. 18.

The visitor industry designates the eight-month period that begins Aug. 21 as aurora-viewing season, even though many people associate northern lights excursions with winter months.

Early season visits have increased over the past decade, from two flights in 2005 to six.

The Fairbanks market has earned a reputation as one of the best places in the world to view northern lights.