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All About Golden Week 2024: Japan's Shining Spring Holidays

All About Golden Week 2024: Japan's Shining Spring Holidays

Last updated: 20 December 2023

Every spring, people across Japan eagerly anticipate Golden Week, a series of national holidays that occur between April 29 and May 6. These four holidays were officially established in 1948 and have since become a cherished tradition in Japan.

Table of Contents
  1. Golden Week: A time for travel and huge crowds
  2. About the four holidays comprising Golden Week
  3. Golden Week is celebrated with events throughout Japan
  4. Enjoy Golden Week...and Silver Week too!
  5. What to do during Golden Week in Tokyo
  6. What to do during Golden Week in Osaka

The name is related to the old Japanese radio slang “golden time,” referring to the period with the highest listener ratings. With weekends and additional paid holidays, many people look forward to Golden Week as their one long holiday of the year.

In the early years that the Golden Week holidays were established, entertainment and leisure businesses saw a large spike during that period, including some of the highest cinema ticket sales of the year, leading to the days being coined “Golden Week” (often abbreviated to “GW”).

Golden Week: A time for travel and huge crowds

Golden Week: A time for travel and huge crowds

During Golden Week, many companies are closed. As such, it is a highly popular time for travel. Especially at the beginning and the end of Golden Week, airports and train stations tend to be extremely crowded, and traffic jams are to be expected.

Additionally, flight and accommodation prices are known to be particularly expensive during this time. It is recommended that potential Golden Week travelers make their reservations as early as possible.

Another point to consider is that because so many people are off from school or work, there are crowds just about everywhere in Japan at this time.

About the four holidays comprising Golden Week

About the four holidays comprising Golden Week

There are four holidays that make up Golden Week, as well as Saturday and Sunday. However, while the dates have remained the same since their inception, the holidays themselves have actually changed a few times over the years.

April 29: Showa Day - This day commemorates the birthday of the deceased Showa Emperor Hirohito, who reigned for 62 years.
This day was originally celebrated as The Emperor’s Birthday until Emperor Akihito’s ascension to the throne in 1989, after which it was changed to Greenery Day, which is speculated to be in honor of Emperor Hirohito’s love of plant life.
This name change remained until 2007, when Greenery Day was moved to May 4, and April 29 changed to its current-day holiday, Showa Day.

May 3: Constitution Memorial Day - A day celebrating the Japanese constitution, which came into effect on May 3, 1947. This day is used to reflect upon the meaning and definition of the Japanese government and democracy. On this day, many newspapers feature articles on these topics.

May 4: Greenery Day - A day to honor nature and greenery, reflect upon the link between nature and humanity, appreciate nature’s gifts, and be aware of the environment. As mentioned above, this holiday used to be on April 29 until it was moved in 2007.

May 5: Children’s Day - This is a day to celebrate children's health, happiness, and individuality. Initially, this holiday was known as Boys’ Day. On Children’s Day, colorful carp streamers are flown as children eat traditional food such as Kashiwa (oak leaf) mochi. (This will be observed on May 6 in 2024.)

Golden Week is celebrated with events throughout Japan

Golden Week is celebrated with events throughout Japan

Various colorful and lively events are held throughout Japan and in Tokyo, such as traditional events and modern festivals. A lot of amusement parks, zoos, museums, and shopping malls hold their own events and campaigns, Japan during Golden Week has an entirely different atmosphere than usual, due to the majority of people being outside and celebrating in one way or the other.

As for Tokyo, some of the event highlights of Golden Weeks include La Folle Journée au Japon, a classical music festival, or the delicious Food Nations Meat Festival. Kyushu’s Fukuoka Prefecture offers a colorful traditional festival called the Hakata Dontaku. In the north, around Hokkaido, cherry blossoms are just around the corner during Golden Week, so a lot of cherry blossom viewing spots like mountains and historic sites are in high demand.

Enjoy Golden Week...and Silver Week too!

In addition to the Golden Week holidays, there are years when a string of consecutive holidays take place mid-September called Silver Week.

While neither of these special periods include an entire week’s worth of holidays, both have become popular times for travel, relaxation, and fun.

Despite the crowds, the joyful atmosphere makes Golden Week enjoyable for anyone who happens to be in Japan during this time.

What to do during Golden Week in Tokyo

Looking for ideas on what to do in Tokyo during Golden Week? While the area is a popular destination, many visitors will opt to explore Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, and other nearby prefectures - or stay in the city itself and explore. Whichever case you are in, here are some fun ideas to check out!

  1. Take a day trip to 'undertouristed' areas near Tokyo
  2. Explore some of Tokyo's more popular neighborhoods
  3. Check out Shimokitazawa, Yanesen, and other unique Tokyo neighborhoods
  4. Head to Chichibu, Saitama and enjoy rafting and other outdoor adventures
  5. Enjoy fun activities in Tokyo's popular Odaiba area
  6. Spend a day in Shibuya and have fun experiencing Tokyo's hip side!
  7. Go hiking at Mount Takao, Tokyo's most popular mountain
  8. Take a day trip down to Kamakura and enjoy seeing the temples and beach during a relaxing cycling tour
  9. Kick back with some tasty food and drinks at these outdoor dining spots in Tokyo
  10. Head to the top of Tokyo Skytree and enjoy a breathtaking view of the city

What to do during Golden Week in Osaka

Though it is another popular destination, what is there to do in Osaka during Golden week? Below are a few ideas for how to have fun during the holidays.

  1. Head outdoors and enjoy a BBQ in Osaka
  2. Hop around the Kansai region and enjoy a fun day trip from Osaka
  3. Enjoy the stunning flowers and scenery at Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park
  4. Relax and soak at Nagashima Spa Land
  5. Go on an adventure at Super Nintendo World
  6. Enjoy refreshing natural scenery and historical sights on a day trip to Wakayama
  7. Explore the sights and foods of Dotonbori
  8. Head to the Abeno Harukas Observatory for the breathtaking view from Osaka's tallest building
  9. Hop aboard an open-top bus and take a tour of Osaka
  10. Take a stroll around Osaka Castle
*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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