Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク) is a highly celebrated holiday season in Japan known for its bustling atmosphere and lively festivities. This year, by taking just two weekdays off as paid leave, you can extend your Golden Week experience to a full nine days! To help you make the most of this exciting time, we’ve compiled all the essential information you need to know about Golden Week 2023.
What is Golden Week?
Golden Week is a popular holiday season in Japan that typically takes place in late April to early May. It consists of a series of four national holidays that are celebrated within a week, providing Japanese people with an extended period of time off work. During this time, transportation and accommodation costs tend to be higher, and many people take the opportunity to travel and explore new destinations both within Japan and abroad. This year, especially after the Corona, people are eager to travel, which will likely spur this trend.
Golden Week Holidays
The holidays making up Golden Week are:
- Shōwa Day – April 29
Showa Day (昭和の日) is a national holiday in Japan that is celebrated every year on April 29th. It is dedicated to the memory of Emperor Hirohito, who reigned during the Showa period from 1926 to 1989. On Showa Day (昭和の日), many Japanese people take the opportunity to reflect on the events and achievements of the Showa era, which was marked by significant social and economic changes in Japan. Some people visit shrines and temples to pay their respects to Emperor Hirohito, who reigned during the Showa period from 1926 to 1989. Others may attend cultural events or exhibitions that showcase the art, music, and fashion of the time. Some families also use the holiday as a chance to spend time together, taking part in outdoor activities, having picnics, or enjoying traditional Japanese foods. Overall, Showa Day is a time for Japanese people to celebrate their history and culture and to appreciate the progress and changes that have been made in their society.
- Constitution Day – May 3
Constitution Day (憲法記念日, Kenpō Kinenbi) is a national holiday in Japan that is celebrated on May 3rd every year. It is a day to commemorate the adoption of Japan’s post-war constitution, which was enacted on May 3, 1947. On this day, Japanese people reflect on the significance of their constitution and the importance of democracy and human rights. Many people attend public lectures or discussions on constitutional law, while others participate in peaceful demonstrations or rallies to express their support for democracy and civil liberties. Some schools and universities also hold special ceremonies or events to educate students about the constitution and its role in Japanese society.
- Greenery Day – May 4
Greenery Day (みどりの日, Midori no Hi) is a national holiday in Japan that is celebrated on May 4th every year. It is a day to appreciate nature and to be thankful for the blessings of the earth. Originally, this day was celebrated as Emperor Hirohito’s birthday, but after his death in 1989, it was changed to Greenery Day to honor his love of nature and his contributions to promoting environmental conservation in Japan.
On Greenery Day, many Japanese people take the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate the beauty of nature. Some may go on hikes, visit parks or gardens, or simply take a walk in a nearby forest or countryside. Others may participate in community clean-up events or tree-planting activities to help preserve the environment. Greenery Day is a time for Japanese people to reflect on their connection to the natural world and to renew their commitment to protecting the planet for future generations.
- Children’s Day – May 5
Children’s Day (こどもの日, Kodomo no Hi) is a national holiday in Japan that is celebrated on May 5th every year. It is a day to celebrate the happiness and well-being of children and to promote their growth and development. Originally, this day was celebrated as Boys’ Day, but in 1948 it was changed to Children’s Day to include both boys and girls.
On Children’s Day, many Japanese people fly koinobori, colorful carp-shaped windsocks, outside their homes to symbolize the strength and determination of children. Families also display a set of armor and helmets, called samurai dolls, to inspire bravery and courage in their children. Traditional foods, such as kashiwa-mochi (rice cake wrapped in oak leaves) and chimaki (sweet rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves), are also enjoyed on this day.
In addition, many local communities hold events and festivals for children, such as parades, games, and performances. It is a time for children to have fun, make new friends, and learn about their cultural heritage. Children’s Day is an important holiday in Japan, as it represents the hope and aspirations of parents and society for the future of their children.
Children’s Day and Hinamatsuri Day in Japan
Children’s Day (こどもの日, Kodomo no Hi) and Hinamatsuri Day (ひな祭り, Girls’ Day) are both celebrated in Japan, but they have different meanings and traditions.
Children’s Day is a national holiday that is celebrated on May 5th every year to promote the happiness and well-being of children. Originally, it was celebrated as Boys’ Day, but in 1948 it was changed to Children’s Day to include both boys and girls. On this day, families display koinobori (carp-shaped windsocks) and samurai dolls to inspire strength and courage in their children. Traditional foods, such as kashiwa-mochi and chimaki, are also enjoyed.
Hinamatsuri Day, on the other hand, is a traditional Japanese festival that is celebrated on March 3rd every year. It is also known as Girls’ Day and is a time to pray for the health and happiness of young girls. On this day, families display a set of ornamental dolls, called hina dolls, on a tiered platform. The dolls represent the emperor, empress, and their court, and are dressed in traditional clothing from the Heian period. Families may also enjoy traditional foods, such as chirashi sushi (scattered sushi) and hina-arare (rice crackers).
In summary, while both Children’s Day and Hinamatsuri Day are celebrations that focus on children, they have different meanings and traditions. Children’s Day is a national holiday that celebrates the happiness and well-being of all children, while Hinamatsuri Day is a traditional festival that specifically celebrates the health and happiness of young girls.
Plan on Visiting Japan?
If you’re visiting Japan for sight-seeing and want to get the most out of your experience, then purchasing the JR Pass is a great option to consider!