A bride braves the snow and cold as she walks towards her wedding ceremony at the 'Igloo village' on Lake Shikaribetsu in Shikaoi town in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido February 14, 2007. Reuters/Yuriko Nakao.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan so far this year topped 20 million, taking just 10 months to beat last year’s record of 19.74 million, according to Japan Tourism Agency figures released on Monday.

The figure is an estimate based on a 24% jump in visitors in the first nine months to 17.98 million, but the agency said it was confident the 20 million figure was breached in October.

While the rate of increase for the first nine months looks impressive, it was just half the 47% surge last year owing to the stronger yen and the slowdown in China’s economy. That showed up in a 2.9% fall in spending by foreign visitors in July-September to about US$9.3 billion, according to Kyodo News.

Still, Japan looks on track to hit its target of attracting 40 million visitors in 2020, the year Tokyo hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games. If only other industries showed the same robust outlook.

Figures out today showed Japan’s industrial production in the third quarter edged up 1.1% from the previous three months, a modest trend that Harumi Taguchi, principal economist at IHS Global Insight, expects to continue in coming months.

Japan’s industries expects production to gain 1.1% in October and 2.1% in November, driven mainly by general-purpose, production and business oriented machinery, and electric parts and devices.

That said, the industry tends to overestimate production outlooks, said Taguchi, indicating that was one reason why figures for September were weaker than the outlook in the previous survey. Plus, the slowing global economy and stronger are risks to a sustainable increase in industrial production.

If Japan’s stuttering industrial economy causes pause, there is always skiing. The long-range weather forecast for Japan predicts normal snowfall in Hokkaido for December through February, always an attraction for more tourists.