As we approach the heart of the sakura season, another special period slowly creeps up. Anyone want to take a guess? Well if you’ve read the title of this blog you should already know, but it’s almost time for dun dun da da…Golden Week! If you’re not familiar with Golden Week, then not to worry! I narrowed down all the details just for you to make your life that much simpler (thank me later)! Let’s jump right into it shall we? If you are not here in Japan with us this year, bookmark this for when borders reopen!
What is Golden Week?
Golden Week or Ogon Shukan is the period between April 29th to May 5th where four of Japan’s 15 holidays fall perfectly into place. First we jump into Showa Day or Showa no hi, then follow up with Constitution Memorial Day or Kenpo Kinenbi. Greenery Day or Midori no Hi is the next day and finally we close up Golden Week with Children’s Day or Kodomo no Hi. This might be a bit of a mouthful – don’t worry as I’ll give you a brief overview of each holiday. Hoping you don’t mind a slight history lesson! (stay awake!)
Showa Day (Showa no Hi) – April 29th
Kicking off Golden week, every April 29th we have Showa Day or Showa no Hi. Showa Day celebrates the birthday of the Emperor of the Showa era (1926 to 1989), Emperor Hirohito. Originally denoted as Greenery Day, Showa Day was officially designated in 2007 whilst Greenery Day was moved to May 4th. The purpose of Showa Day is to reflect on events and the history, as the showa era was one of Japan’s turbulent and complex periods. Here we saw events such as World War II and the 1964 Olympics and thus it’s common to find people enjoying the then and now. One fun way to enjoy Showa Day is by having a picnic! What’s more peaceful and a better way to reflect than that?
Here’s a fun fact: Showa actually means “shining peace!”
Constitution Memorial Day (Kenpo Kinenbi) – May 3rd
Okay, that’s enough of my history lesson…not really. Let’s skip ahead to Constitution Memorial Day on May 3rd! On this day in 1947, the Constitution of Japan came into play. This is another day of reflection and you can even find lectures about the role the Constitution has played in the last 50 years. The National Diet in Tokyo which is home to both the House of Representatives and House of Councilors even offers tours to the general public!
Greenery Day (Midori no Hi) – May 4th
Up next we have Greenery Day on May 4th. Before 1989, Greenery Day was denoted as April 29th, however it was moved to May 4th in 2007 in reminiscence of the late emperor’s love for plants and nature. It is a day to appreciate nature and be thankful. If you’re a nature lover like myself that would sound like bliss! And if you’re a gardener, Greenery Day is the perfect excuse to add some new green additions to your home. You can also find colorful parades and paper lanterns decorating the streets!
Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi)- May 5th
And last but not least to end off Golden Week we have Children’s Day on May 5th. Originally called Tango no sekku or Boy’s Day, this holiday celebrates the happiness and growth of children. It is common to see koinobori – carp-shaped windstock- swimming in the wind.
As of 1948, Tango no sekku was officially changed to Children’s Day to include girls and even parents. Another fun fact: did you know that different colors of the koinobori symbolizes different family members? At the forefront there’s the black carp which represents the father followed closely by the red carp representing the mother and finally any additional colors represent the children. Traditionally the red carp would represent the eldest son whilst the subsequent colors represent the youngest brothers.
Why a carp? Well carps are a symbol of strength and success not to mention there’s a legend about a carp transforming into a dragon after swimming up a river!
Here’s another fun fact: Golden week is named after a Japanese radio term – ‘golden time’ – back in 1951 by the managing director of Daiei Film to denote the period with the highest activity.
Golden Week Activities
I’m sure you’ve had enough of my history lessons for now. So you may be asking, “what do people do during Golden Week?” Well, Golden Week is Japan’s busiest period as everyone tries their best to take advantage of this holiday season.
Families and friends may plan their trips weeks ahead in advance. In other words, business is booming! Here’s some ideas if you’re stuck on how to enjoy your Golden Week:
- Have a picnic with friends and families
- Viewing Carp windsock at Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree.
- Enjoying the wisteria flowers at Kameido Tenjin Shrine in Tokyo
- Love the other outdoors? Why not try camping at Lake Ashi Camping Village in Hakone!
- Not a fan of flying or buses? Gather the friends and family and take a road trip!
- If you’re a crafts person you can check out Kasama Geijutsu no Mori Park in Ibaraki where you can make your own pottery and fun crafts!
- Savoring the Bunkyo Azalea Festival at Nezu Shrine
- And of course there is something to lure in the foodies – Niku Fes (Meat Festival) at Komazawa Olympic Park in Tokyo. You may even find some plant-based options as well!
These are just a few options as there are many, many more, so please, feel free to widen your horizons.
And here’s a Special Treat: Arigato Travel’s Golden Week Campaign!
I’ve been holding back a lot for the entirety of this blog but finally, it leads up to a special announcement!
Still stuck on how to make the best of Golden Week? Are you a foodie? Or even if you’re not (I mean we all got to eat lol). How does going on a foodie adventure with us at Arigato Travel sound? Well you’re in luck! This year we’re offering 30% off a couple of tours in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Fujinomiya to Japanese residents or foreigners currently in Japan!
Our knowledgeable guides will lead you to hidden treasures with the sole goal of ensuring you have an excellent experience. Use the coupon code GW2022 to access this great opportunity which is available from April 18th to May 29th (you can see the list of tours available on the image above). If you have any questions, don’t be shy! Feel free to contact us! (Seriously! Contact us).
Book an authentic food tour in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and at the base of Mt Fuji to discover hidden gems with a local guide!
PIN THIS FOR LATER