What is GOLDEN WEEK in Japan?

Golden Week is a week that encompasses four of Japan’s national holidays. You may have heard of it, you may have not. Golden Week takes place in Japan from April 29th to May 5th. During this week, Japanese people take vacations, travel the country, or go abroad, and in general had a great time regardless of the crowds. (Pre-covid)

But why all this buzz around the week? Why do Japanese people get an entire week off to do whatever they like and we don’t? Let’s find out what this Golden Week is all about.

Golden Week: History & more

The week begins with Showa Day, Constitution Day, Greenery Day, and Children’s Day. 

Showa Day (April 29) SHOWA NO HI 昭和の日
 The purpose of this holiday is to remind Japan of Emperor Showa Hirohito’s 63 years of rule in Japan, and the hardships they faced during those times. The Showa day is more for reflection of Japan’s historic past.

Constitution Day (May 3) KENPO KINENBI 憲法記念日
This day celebrates the Constitution of Japan. Japanese constitution came into effect on May 3rd, 1947. On this day, Japan celebrates to reflect its democracy and governance.

Greenary Day (May 4) MIDORI NO HI みどりの日
This day is a day that Japan celebrates nature. The country becomes more in tune with nature and thanks to mother earth on this day.

Children’s Day (May 5) KODOMO NO HI こどもの日
Also known as Tango no Sekku, Children’s Day has been a fixture since at least the Nara Period (710-94). It is most recognizably celebrated by hanging out windsock koinobori outside the doors. This ritual is based on a Chinese legend, that if a koinobori is strong enough to swim up due to wind, it can become a dragon.

white and red wind mill on green grass field

Children’s Day in Japan is one of Japan’s gosekku (five sacred festivals). But if you are wondering why this week has been dubbed “Golden,” the answer lies in the 20th century.

Golden Week in present times

Following Japan’s 1947 Constitution, the new cluster of late-April, early-May holidays led to people spending their free time — among other things — frequenting movie theaters.

Apparently, during post-war, a popular filmmaker and novelist saw record ticket sales during 1951’s collection of national holidays. Film studios took note of this.  One such Managing Director dubbed this lucrative time of year in Japan as “Golden Week.” There is also a week called, “Silver Week” in Japan, although it hasn’t caught on in quite the same way.

Today, not only the movie industry but other leisure activities in the country see a boom during Golden Week, particularly travel. Pre-covid, A sizable population within Japan, traveled during this week.

The world is struggling due to the current pandemic and Japan is respecting the restrictions in place. This will be the second year where campaigns like “Stay Indoors” will be encouraged.

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