Mobility Patterns in Different Age Groups in Japan during the COVID-19 Pandemic: a Small Area Time Series Analysis through March 2021

Shuhei Nomura, Yuta Tanoue, Daisuke Yoneoka, Stuart Gilmour, Takayuki Kawashima, Akifumi Eguchi, Hiroaki Miyata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


In the COVID-19 era, movement restrictions are crucial to slow virus transmission and have been implemented in most parts of the world, including Japan. To find new insights on human mobility and movement restrictions encouraged (but not forced) by the emergency declaration in Japan, we analyzed mobility data at 35 major stations and downtown areas in Japan—each defined as an area overlaid by several 125-meter grids—from September 1, 2019 to March 19, 2021. Data on the total number of unique individuals per hour passing through each area were obtained from Yahoo Japan Corporation (i.e., more than 13,500 data points for each area). We examined the temporal trend in the ratio of the rolling seven-day daily average of the total population to a baseline on January 16, 2020, by ten-year age groups in five time frames. We demonstrated that the degree and trend of mobility decline after the declaration of a state of emergency varies across age groups and even at the subregional level. We demonstrated that monitoring dynamic geographic and temporal mobility information stratified by detailed population characteristics can help guide not only exit strategies from an ongoing emergency declaration, but also initial response strategies before the next possible resurgence. Combining such detailed data with data on vaccination coverage and COVID-19 incidence (including the status of the health care delivery system) can help governments and local authorities develop community-specific mobility restriction policies. This could include strengthening incentives to stay home and raising awareness of cognitive errors that weaken people's resolve to refrain from nonessential movement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-641
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct


  • COVID-19, Human mobility
  • Japan
  • Smartphone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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