Golden Week In Japan

I traveled to Japan during Golden week and discovered that in general terms, crowds are everywhere. Prices for many hotels and restaurants can be increased and getting a hotel or restaurant reservation can be challenging to say the least.

I still had a great time and would probably want to visit later in May so that I could enjoy more points of interest without the possibility of missing out due to the overwhelming crowds.

A long Holiday Week

Golden Week for the Japanese is a time to celebrate several national holidays throughout the country.

The phrase “Golden Week” refers to the week that includes four of Japan’s 15 public holidays.  The  Previous Emperor Hirohito’s birthday (April 29), his love of nature, or specifically flowers (May 4), the Japanese Constitution created post World War II are observed on these days (May 3, 1947).

During Golden Week the Japanese take many days off to travel the country and visit sites across Japan.

Useful advice is that during Golden Week, popular destinations in Japan will be quite crowded. Instead of going to large theme parks or major tourist attractions is to visit rural locations away from Tokyo and other large cities will have large amounts of Japanese tourists traveling the country. 

Many planning trips to Japan ask the question. How busy is Golden Week and is it as crowded as it’s reported?

As a general rule Japanese individuals take holiday leave from their jobs before and after the holiday, the effects of Golden Week can last up to ten days.  the last week of April and the first week of May will be quite crowded across the country.

Most visitors to Japan will start their journey in the nation’s capital of Tokyo, but is it going to be even more crowded than usual?

As a whole Getting Around Tokyo During Golden is complex since it is one of the busiest tourist seasons in Japan, eliciting various degrees of delight and frustration depending on your travel plans and tolerance for crowds. It often means greater congestion, higher ticket costs, and much more people.

Tokyo’s Crowds During Golden Week

Four National Japanese Holidays In A Row

April 29Showa no hi

Showa Day

Showa Day is celebrated on April 29th each year. Emperor Showa (Hirohito) was the reigning emperor from 1926 to 1989, and his birthday was observed. On January 7, 1989, Emperor Hirohito passed. As a consequence, April 29 is now known as Showa Day, part of Japan’s Golden Week, rather than The Emperor’s Birthday.

In 2007, the April 29 holiday was renamed Showa Day, while Greenery Day was shifted from April 29 to May 1.

YearApril 29May 4
Pre 1988Emperor’s BirthdayNon-holiday
1988Emperor’s BirthdayNational day of rest
1989–2006Greenery DayNational day of rest
2007–CurrentShōwa DayGreenery Day
Some confusion exists with visitors to Japan as the exact dates during Golden Week
Emperor Showa’s (Hirohito) tomb in Hachioji, Japan

May 3-Kenpo kinenbi

Constitution Memorial Day

Constitution Memorial Day is a day observed every May 3rd to reflect on Japan’s heritage and history. Each year on May 3rd, the National Diet Building (location of where it was drafted) opens its doors to the public for tours. The document is also known as the “Postwar Constitution.”

The emphasis of the constitution was to be on the basic theme of peace and harmony.

National Diet Building Japan

Currently, the armed forces of Japan are referred to as a defense force rather than offensive.

The Japanese Constitution publicly denounced war and vowed never to retain ground, sea, or air troops in Article 9 of their postwar constitution. As a result, Japan’s rearmament in the 1950s is framed as a matter of self-defense only.

May 4-Midori no hi

Greenery Day

Greenery Day is a Japanese national holiday that commemorates Emperor Showa’s (Hirohito, who reigned from 1901 to 1989) birthday on April 29 every year during the Showa era (1926-1989). Since Emperor Akihito’s accession to the Seat of power in 1989, the holiday now renamed Greenery Day.”

Officially, it is a day to connect with nature and give thanks for blessings, as the term suggests. To honor the emperor’s love of plants, flowers, and nature, thus Greenery Day.

Perfection in Nature The Japanese Garden

According to a 2005 amendment of the legislation governing public holidays, Greenery Day was shifted to May 4 and April 29 was renamed Showa Day.

May 5-Kodomo no hi

Children’s Day

Boys’ Day was celebrated as the counterpart of Hinamatsuri, or “Girl’s Day,” on March 3 until 1948. The name was modified to Children’s Day in 1948 to include both boys and girls, as well as to honor mothers and fathers, and the family itself.

Children’s Day Koi Nobori windsocks Seen Flying during Golden Week

Families fly koinobori, which are carp-shaped windsocks, with a black carp for the father, a red or pink carp for the mother, and one carp (typically blue, but occasionally green and orange) for each child on this day.

When Boys’ Day was honored in the past, the eldest son received a red koinobori, while junior siblings received blue and other hues.

Calendar Dates For Golden Week 2022-2025

Year Date DayHoliday
2022APRIL 29FRIDAYSHOWA DAY
2022MAY 3TUESDAYCONSTITUTION DAY
2022MAY 4WEDNESDAYGREENERY DAY
2022MAY 5THURSDAYCHILDRENS DAY
2023 APRIL 29 SATURDAY SHOWA DAY
2023 MAY 3 WEDNESDAY CONSTITUTION DAY
2023 MAY 4 THURSDAY GREENERY DAY
2023 MAY 5 FRIDAY CHILDRENS DAY
2024 APRIL 29 MONDAY SHOWA DAY
2024 MAY 3 FRIDAY CONSTITUTION DAY
2024 MAY 4 SATURDAY GREENERY DAY
2024 MAY 5 SUNDAY CHILDRENS DAY
2025 APRIL 29 TUESDAY SHOWA DAY
2025 MAY 3 SATURDAY CONSTITUTION DAY
2025 MAY 4 SUNDAY GREENERY DAY
2025 MAY 5 MONDAY CHILDRENS DAY

Silver Week In Japan A Rare Occurance

The title “Silver Week” is a new Japanese name for a series of September holidays. The word gained popularity in 2009, referencing the uncommon occurrence of a weekend followed by three Japanese national holidays in September of that year.

The next significant Silver Weeks will take place in 2026 and 2037, with five days of national holidays along with a weekend making it a probable week-long period of travel for Japanese workers and their families.

Samurai Dolls On Children’s Day

In addition to flying the colorful Koi Nobori symbolizing family Samurai figurines or dolls can sometimes also be displayed in homes across Japan. The symbolism of this display is to wish for protection from disasters and a future filled with good fortune.

Extended Golden Weeks

Some years depending on where the Holidays fall in each week will lengthen the overall holiday as they were in 2019. Some years Golden Week can last as long as 10 days.

Origin Of The Title Golden Week

Originally the title came from the motion picture or radio industry as their profits greatly increase during these holiday periods. Movie sales increases and radio audiences were elevated during the holiday as a result of workers having more time to dedicate to leisure activities as movie going and listening to radio programs.

old and traditional cinema in Osaka

Plan Your Trip

This time of year, it is usual for the Japanese to eat tons of mochi rice cakes and other Japanese delights. This is a very busy time of year for vacation travel, so plan your transportation and lodging choices as soon as possible to prevent disappointment.

If you intend on visiting Japan during golden week know that it’s going to be very crowded and congested on trains, subways, buses, flights, hotels, and restaurants as well.

If you are not deterred by large crowds and waiting in lines then Golden Week may be a great time for your visit. Just remember to practice patience and know what to expect.

MT Lee
My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.