In Japan, Golden Week is a period of four public holidays clustered together during one week at the end of April to the start of May. Apart from the New Years and Obon (traditional holidays in August), Golden Week is one of the busiest holiday periods in Japan.
But this year, Golden Week is going Platinum! The current Emperor of Japan, Emperor Akihito, is resigning on April 30. His son, the Crown Prince Naruhito, will ascend to the throne on May 1, with the day becoming a national holiday. This day also heralds a new Imperial era name, Reiwa (令和), meaning beautiful harmony, so the Japanese calendar year will begin from year 1 once again, and the current Heisei (平成; achieving peace) era, which is now in its 31st year, will come to an end. Imperial era names are often used on official documents in Japan, although the Western calendar date system is generally used in daily life.
Due to the new once-off May 1 holiday, April 30 and May 2 will also become national holidays; according to Japanese law, a day between two national holidays also automatically becomes a holiday. This creates a once in a generation Platinum Week, with a 10-day consecutive holiday period from April 27 to May 6.
Golden Week is made up of four public holidays:
April 29: Showa Day (昭和の日; showa no hi)
This is the birthday of the Showa era Emperor Hirohito, who died in 1989. During this day, the Japanese people remember the Showa era, which was filled with war and hardships, but also contained the bubble economy.
May 3: Constitution Day (健保記念日; kenpo kinenbi)
On May 3, 1947, the new postwar Japanese constitution came into effect. This day is often used by the media to reflect on the current state of Japanese politics.
May 4: Greenery Day (緑の日; midori no hi)
This day celebrates the environment and nature. It was originally celebrated on April 29, the birthday of the Showa era Emperor Hirohito, due to his love of plants and greenery.
May 5: Children’s Day (こどもの日; kodomo no hi)
Boy’s Day (端午の節句; tango no sekku) is celebrated on this day, with Girl’s Day (ひな祭り; hina matsuri) celebrated on March 3. On Boy’s Day, koi carp streamers are flown in houses and communities, and families pray for the health and success of their sons. Samurai dolls are often displayed in houses, mirroring the Imperial Court dolls displayed during the start of March for Girl’s Day.
Although coming to Japan is not recommended during Golden Week due to the high numbers of locals travelling both domestically and internationally, you can enjoy good weather and various Golden Week festivals and events held locally.
Why not take advantage of the joyous holiday spirit and enjoy the good weather with a bento lunch? We have various picnic boxes available here that will ensure a good time is had by all!