By Tim Binnall
After traveling to Peru earlier this year in the hopes of visiting Machu Picchu and becoming stranded in the country for seven months due to the coronavirus pandemic, a Japanese tourist was finally granted access to the site this week and given a solitary tour of the iconic location. Jesse Katayama's amazing story reportedly began back in March when he arrived at the Peruvian town of Aguas Calientes with a pre-purchased pass to explore the nearby 15th-century Inca citadel in a few days time.
However, much like what has happened at many popular tourist destinations around the world this year, Peruvian officials closed the site to tourists in response to the coronavirus pandemic right before Katayama's scheduled visit. Incredibly, rather than simply find a way back home to Japan and give up on his quest, the dedicated traveler actually rented an apartment in Aguas Calientes, got a job in the town, and patiently waited for the lockdown to end.
Word of the tourist's seven-month-long wait eventually caught the attention of a Peruvian media outlet which detailed his predicament. "I stayed with the sole purpose of getting to know this wonder," Katayama told a reporter, "and I didn’t want to leave without doing so." In response to the man's remarkable story, the country's Minister of Culture Alejandro Neyra decided to grant him sole access to the site this past Sunday.
“He had come to Peru with the dream of being able to enter," Neyra said in a virtual press conference, explaining that Katayama "has entered together with our head of the park so that he can do this before returning to his country.” The tourist subsequently shared photos from his visit on Instagram to celebrate the once-in-a-lifetime experience of touring Machu Picchu as the sole visitor to the famed site.