Japan’s Golden Week Celebration
After enjoying Japan’s cherry blossom period, there is another holiday to be celebrated on the last week of April to the first week of May. It’s called Golden Week.
But what is Golden Week? What is the origin of this holiday? How do we celebrate it? Read on to have an insight into this long holiday season.
What is Golden Week?
Golden Week is the period between April 29th to May 5th. That’s exactly 7 days! Let me tell you the names of each non-working holiday. First is Showa Day (Showa no Hi), followed by Constitution Memorial Day (Kenpo Kinenbi), Greenery Day (Midori no Hi), and finally Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi).
Showa Day (April 29th)
Showa Day celebrates the birthday of the Emperor of the Showa Era, Emperor Hirohito (1926 to 1989). This day was officially designated in 2007 while Greenery Day was Moved to May 4th. The meaning of this day is to reflect on events and history as the Showa era was one of Japan’s most complex periods. Here, we saw events like World War 2 and the 1964 Olympics, and thus people reflect on the past and present situations.
Not many people these days know the meaning behind this day and here’s a fun fact: Showa means “shining peace”. A fun way to celebrate Showa Day is having a picnic and just enjoying the beautiful, crisp spring day with delicious foods.
Constitution Memorial Day (May 3rd)
On this day in 1947, the Constitution of Japan came to exist. This is a day to reflect on the role of the Constitution in the last 50 years. Wondering which is the best place to learn about this holiday? The National Diet in Tokyo offers tours to the general public.
Greenery Day (May 4th)
Greenery Day or Midori no Hi is a special day to reminisce about the late emperor’s love for plants and nature. It is a day to appreciate nature and be thankful for it. If you’re a nature lover like me, grab the opportunity to explore the outdoor sceneries!
Children’s Day (May 5th)
Children’s Day or Kodomo no Hi celebrates the happiness and growth of children. It is also common to see carp banners swimming in the wind which is called koi no bori in Japanese. You can find it mostly in public parks and houses in rural villages.
Ever wondered why carp banners are used? Carps are a symbol of strength and success and there’s even an ancient story about the carp transforming into a dragon after swimming in the river!
How to celebrate Golden Week
Now that you know about the meaning of each day in Golden Week, you are free to celebrate your own holiday in style. This is also the busiest period for Japan when it comes to travel and business. Most Japanese people travel locally or internationally to popular destinations like Hawaii and South East Asia.
While I live here in the countryside of Mashiko, Tochigi, Japan, I avoided the long hours of traffic on the road. My Golden Week activities are:
- Exploring the outdoors camping, biking, or hiking.
- Visit a nearby amusement park.
- Have a picnic and barbecue with family and friends.
- Taste a local delicacy at food festivals.
- Checking out the pottery fair in town.
- Watching the carp streamers swimming in the wind at a public park.
- Participating in a bamboo shoots-digging event in my neighborhood.
These are just a few options and there’s a lot more to do especially if you live in Japan’s major cities. Feel free to explore and widen your horizons!