Golden Week, one of Japan’s biggest holiday periods, begins in a few weeks. Golden Week is a grouping of four national holidays that starts on April 29 and ends on May 5. This is the longest holiday season for Japan which makes it equivalent to a gigantic national spring break when businesses and schools are closed and people get an opportunity to venture out on holiday. Thus, this is the week to travel and get away. Flights, trains, and hotels are often fully booked despite significantly higher rates at this time. Many companies in Japan close down for the entire Golden Week and some even close for 10 days giving employees a lengthy holiday period.
Golden Week has been celebrated over the past several decades going back to 1948 when the Japanese National Holidays law was passed which concentrated a number of holidays at the end of April and first week of May. By the early 1950’s, the leisure-based industries started noticing that people had more time during this concentrated time to see movies, eat out and travel and a popular trend was born.
The following are the national holidays that make up Golden Week:
April 29 – Showa Emperor’s Birthday or Showa no Hi. This date was the birthday of the late Japanese Emperor Hirohito, who is known in Japan exclusively by his posthumous name Emperor Showa. Emperor Showa died in 1989. Thisholiday is observed on April 30th in 2012.
May 3 – Constitution Day or Kenpo Kinenbi. This date marks Japan’s Constitution that came into being on May 3, 1947.
May 4 – Greenery Day or Midori no Hi. After the Showa emperor’s death in 1989, Greenery Day was established to honor the environment and nature. It’s another version of Earth Day in Japan and certainly appropriate as the Showa Emperor was very much into nature and the environment.
March 5 – Childrens Day or Kodomo no Hi. This holiday was originally set up for boys where their families would celebrate by flying carp-shaped streamers and displaying samurai dolls. Today, however, this national holiday is for all children where children celebrate with their parents and special foods are prepared.
Although Japanese New Year and the Bon Festival are two other popular vacation times, Golden Week is probably the most traveled holiday period for Japanese people. For those of you living in places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, San
Diego, New York and Washington, D.C. you may notice quite a few Japanese tourists visiting during the first week of May.
Whether you’re going to or leaving Japan during Golden Week, have a wonderful holiday!