Why the Japanese Have an Annual Golden Week Celebration

What you should know about the significance of the tradition

If you travel to Japan in the spring, you might be able to observe some of the country's Golden Week celebrations. They take place from the end of April through roughly May 5th.

So, what is Golden Week and why is it celebrated? With this overview, get the facts about the tradition and its significance to the Japanese people.

What Does Golden Week Commemorate?

Japan's Golden Week gets its name from the fact that several national holidays take place during this period.

The holiday week is a major event in the country. For instance, many Japanese offices close for about a week to 10 days during Golden Week. With the exception of schools, most offices in the United States never close for this amount of time, not even during the winter holiday season. So, if you're an American, visiting Japan during Golden Week may be a shock.

So, which holidays are observed during Golden Week?

The first national holiday during Golden Week is April 29, which was the birthday of the Showa emperor. Now, this day is called showa-no-hi, or Showa Day. The second holiday is kenpou-kinen-bi, or Constitution Memorial Day. It falls on May 3. The day after that, there's midori-no-hi, which is known as Greenery Day.

The last holiday during Golden Week is kodomono-hi, or Children's Day. It falls on May 5. The day also marks the Japanese Boy's Festival called tango-no-sekku. It is a day to pray for the healthy growth of boys.

Given this, it's a Japanese tradition for families of boys to hang up carp streamers (koinobori) outside of their houses around this holiday. Carps are believed to symbolize successes in children's lives. Also, samurai dolls called gogatsu ningyo, or May dolls, are displayed in their homes.

Use the list of dates below to memorize the Golden Week holidays: 

  • April 29: Showa-no-hi (Showa Day)
  • May 3 : Kenpou-kinen-bi (Constitution Memorial Day)
  • May 4 : Midori-no-hi (Greenery Day)
  • May 5 : Kodomo-no-hi (Children's Day)

Other Ways Japanese People Celebrate 

During Golden Week, the Japanese often take a vacation and travel around the country or abroad. This means that tourist attractions in Japan are crowded during this time. The same goes for airports and train stations. It is widely known that it's difficult to get reservations for accommodations and transportation during Golden Week.

So, while May is usually a pleasant season to travel in Japan, avoid coming during the first week of the month. You'll have a much better experience if you plan a trip to Japan after Golden Week.

Of course, some people enjoy the hustle and bustle of crowds and heavily packed places. If you're such a person, by all means, arrange to travel to Japan during Golden Week. If you have family and friends in Japan who are willing to host you, traveling to the country during that time will likely pose far fewer problems for you. Afterward, you can take pride in the fact that you visited the country at its most hectic and managed to survive