Golden Week

For those that don’t know, Japan has an obscene number of Public Holidays, 15 to be exact. However, four of them are within a magical one-week period called “Golden Week”. Those four holidays are:

  • Showa Day (April 29th) which commemorates Emperor Hirohito
  • Constitutional Memorial Day (May 3rd)
  • Greenery Day (May 4th) also referred as Green Day
  • Children’s Day (May 5th)

Wikipedia also tells me that Greenery Day is a recently named holiday, before it was just “Public Holiday” because in Japan, if two holidays are a day apart, then that day is also dubbed a holiday. Wikipedia doesn’t tell you that this period is called Golden Week because hotels rake in the gold by doubling their prices, and trains and buses make a nice profit adding holiday surcharges, so if you want to go anywhere, you need to book in January and make sure you have plenty of money. Since I’m not a big fan of planning ahead, I have avoided travel during Golden Week in my time in Japan. Which is just as well because the crowds are rather insane. In years past, I’ve fought through throngs of people on the streets of Toyko, and waited in long lines for bus to take me to see a giant koi flag descend upon the innocent population of Kazo, Saitama. This year, I stayed closed to home, but even going to a local shopping mall was a hassle (waited two hours to be seated for lunch). There’s talk of the government staggering Golden Week according region. It sounds horribly confusing, so it just might work in Japan.

My main beef with Golden Week is it’s not actually a whole week! This year, Showa Day fell on a Thursday, but Friday was still a work day. Now after Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off, I’ll return a two day work week. Next year, the 3 consecutive May holidays will fall on Tuesday to Thursday, meaning Monday and Friday will still be work days! Japan, you so crazy!

My other beef with Golden Week is that, after 4 holidays within a week of each other, there’s no Public Holiday for 2.5 months (Marine Day in Late July). Time to take advantage of my nen-kyuu (paid vacation).