Learn about Golden Week in Japan

Learn about Golden Week in Japan

Welcome back to another “Video & Article” series, this time for another live-stream with tutor Erika. In this live-stream we took a look at “Golden Week”, a string of public holidays that allow the ever-working Japanese to take off several days in a row at the end of April/beginning of May.

Table of Contents
[About Golden Week]
[The Public Holidays of Golden Week]
[Travel Activity]


Have you ever heard of “Golden Week”? It’s called “ゴールデンウィーク” or “大型連休おおがたれんきゅう”. “大型おおがた” means “big”, or “big format”, and “連休れんきゅう” means “consecutive holidays”. So “大型連休おおがたれんきゅう” is the “Big consecutive holiday” in Japan, and usually refers to Golden Week. Golden Week consists of several public holidays. Public holidays are “祝日しゅくじつ” in Japanese. The kanji “しゅく” means celebration - so it’s a celebration day!

[About Golden Week]

Golden Week takes place at the end of April and beginning of May, containing a number of public holidays. It’s a great opportunity for Japanese nationals to combine the public holidays with paid leave and take up to 10 days off. Sometimes, companies even close over Golden Week, asking all of their employees to take paid leave. It is the longest vacation period of the year for many Japanese workers.

Two other longer holidays in Japan are “お正月しょうがつ” (New Year’s) and “おぼん” (Obon Festival in August).

Since long holidays are rare for Japanese workers, this is a very popular time for travel despite the increased prices. Flights, trains and hotels book out very fast, and many tropical islands around Japan as well as many regions of Southeast Asia are popular travel destinations. Some even travel as far as the USA, Europe or Australia.

During all of these longer holidays, expect to be dealing with lots of “渋滞じゅうたい” (traffic jams).

[The Public Holidays of Golden Week]

April 29: 昭和しょうわ
April 29 is “Showa no Hi” and the birthday of the former emperor Showa, who died in 1989.

May 3: 憲法記念日けんぽうきねんび
May 3 is “Constitution Day” since on this day in 1947, the postwar constitution was put into effect.

May 4: みどりの
May 4 is (other than Star Wars day) “Greenery Day”. May 4 has always been a public holiday (since any day in Japan that falls between two public holidays automatically also becomes a public holiday by law), but it only became Greenery Day in 2006. Previously, emperor Showa’s birthday (april 29) had been Greenery Day due to the emperor’s love for nature.

May 5: こどもの
May 5 is “Children’s Day”. Actually, it used to be just Boy’s Day, “端午たんご節句せっく ” which is celebrated on this day. On this day, you will see many “こいのぼり” (carp streamers) flying in the May breeze, symbolising families prayers for the health and success of their boys/children. Another common decoration are Samurai dolls, “五月人形ごがつにんぎょう”. Girl’s day is called “ひなまつり” and is celebrated on March 3. Girl’s day is, interestingly, not a public holiday.

[Travel Activity]

In 2018, the first weekend was a 3-day weekend, and the second one a 4-day holiday. Travel activity usually peaks in the beginning of May when many people leave the urban centers, especially Tokyo. This is called “帰省きせいラッシュ”, or “Homecoming rush”, since many Japanese leave urban areas to return to their homes in the countryside. The rush in the opposite direction, usually a few days later in early May, is called “Uターンラッシュ”, and especially during these days traffic jams, 渋滞じゅうたい, can get quite heavy.

If you plan to visit Japan during Golden Week, count in these days of busy traffics and make sure to book your accommodation in advance.

That’s it for today. If you have any questions, you can always clear them up by booking a lesson with one of our native Japanese tutors. See you next time!
単語たんごリスト(Vocabulary list)
ゴールデンウィーク Golden Week
大型連休おおがたれんきゅう Big Holiday, Golden Week
祝日しゅくじつ Public holiday
正月しょうがつ New Year’s
ぼん Obon festival
渋滞じゅうたい Traffic jam
帰省きせいラッシュ Traffic rush of people leaving urban areas at the beginning of long consecutive holidays
Uターンラッシュ Traffic rush of people returning to urban areas (especially Tokyo) at the end of long consecutive holidays
こいのぼり Carp streamers