Golden Week - Japanese Holidays

I've probably already talked about the Golden Week on, but I wanted to get to the topic with more details. Hence, this dedicated article. Golden Week is a Japanese specificity, it corresponds to a sequence of several holidays during which all of Japan seems to be running in slow motion. Of course, local shops (such as konbini and others) remain open but many businesses close at this time, for a week to ten days.

The Japanese Golden Week usually lasts five or more days in early May. It is punctuated by three following national holidays, usually leaning back on the weekend that precedes or follows:

  • May 3 (宪法记念日 day of the 1947 constitution)
  • May 4 (緑の日 greenery day)
  • May 5 (子供の日 children's day, boys' actually)

These consecutive days are also preceded by 昭和の日 (Showa no Hi), a national holiday commemorating the anniversary of Emperor Showa, on April 29, which many connect to the Golden Week.

As travelers, beware of the Golden Week because all kinds of transportation are really crowded; it would be a shame, for example, to have a Japan Rail Pass for a week at this time, quite uncomfortable to travel in Japan. Similarly, many accomodations such as hotels or ryokan are sold out weeks in advance, and / or take the opportunity to raise their rates.

There's like a second mini Golden Week around New Year's Day. Traditionally, the Japanese take a few days off at that time of the year, to do a vast house cleaning, go to the temple / sanctuary or onsen.

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