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Golden Week in Japan: Vacation, At Last.

" Koinobori" is a set of 4 wind socks, with each colored carps having its own meaning. (Black : father, red : Mother, Blue : little boy). It is also said that carps swimming upstreaming become dragons. (Photo by Oimax/CC) 

Everybody knows that Japanese people are hard-worker. It's a cliché but noone can totaly deny the fact that a lot of people there work like crazy and don't enjoy that much vacation.

Is this image of Japan real or ... ? (Photo by Patrik Jones/CC)

For having spent a few years here, i'd agree with that: lots of my friends do have long working hours and really strive for excellence.
However, this doesn't mean that they never take a few rest from time to time either. In fact, beside the 10 legal vacation days, there is three very famous holidays time in Japan known as follow: Obon (at the end of summer), the New Year vacation, and the Golden Week (also written GW).

The last one is probably Japanese's favorite time, as it comes just at spring. A perfect time to enjoy a few days off with family, friends or lovers, and travel around the country or oversea.

Japanese trains use to be crowed, but Golden Week's peak times are trully incredible. Definitively not for claustrophobic people. (Photo by Chris Gladis/CC)

By the way if you were wondering where the name comes from,you wouldn't be surprised: it clearly refers to Radio's Golden Time. It was given that name in the 60s, when entertainment compagnies started to realize the commercial potential of these holidays.  

Golden Week Schedule

  • April 29 昭和の日 (Shôwa no hi) Showa Day
    The birthday of Showa emperor. Hiro Hito's reign was firstly marked by a resurgence of authoritarianism and war. Therefore, beyond the traditional festivities, this day is also a time for reflection about this complicated era. 
  • May 3 憲法記念日 (Kenpô kinen hi) Constitution Memorial Day
    The current Japanese constitution was established in 1947 and is being celebrated one time a year as a reminder for democracy and peace.
  • 4 Mai みどりの日 (Midori no hi) Greenery Day
    This holiday is a subtle reference to former emperor love for plants. It was once known as "Showa Day" in the past but was renamed when Hiro hito died in 1989.
  • 5 Mai 子供の日 (Kodomo no hi) Kids Day
    A very old tradition of celebrating kids on that day is found in Japan and several other parts of Asia. The big carp-shaped wind socks you can see everywhere are directly linked with Kodomo no hi. Little boys and girls traditionally eat kashiwa (red bean)-mochi and chimaki on that day.

The dates of the vacation obviously change from year to year but the holidays remains steady and most of people often spare some vacation days of that time of the year in order to enjoy almost 2 weeks of free-time (something normally unusual in Japan).

If you plan to visit Japan at that time

You can find this famous Torii (gate) at Itsukushima shrine, not far from Hiroshima. Definitively a place to go if you're travelling for your first time in Japan

"Unfortunately", the Golden Week falls exactly on early Spring, right when the islands are already crowed with tourists enjoying one of the most mildest weather of the year. You can guess how hard it is to book reservations  for your trains, bus, hotels or ryokan then. So if you plane to come, stay and travel within Japan at the end of April/beginning of May, i strongly recommend you to make all the necessary arrangements weeks or even months (if you can) ago.

Heianjingu, Kinkakuji, Kyomizutera...Kyoto ne manque pas de temples connus. Mais c'est en se laissant porter par ses pas que l'on finit par découvrir des merveilles insoupçonnées telle que cette vue du temple Honen-in. 

Coming to Japan has never been so easy since tourism industry (together with local and national partners) are really making their best to let foreigners enjoying a satisfying experience without having to remember the thousands of Kanji you'd need for reading Japanese.  So don't miss your chance to discover the best place of the islands like Beppu's mysterious hot springs in Kyushu, Miyakojima's tropical beaches in Okinawa or the secret of Kyoto, the ancient capital for instance.

Speaking of which, we'll gladly welcome you at our Kyoto store to let you know our best tips about sightseeing, restaurants events and much more. So don't be shy and come by us, we're waiting there! \(^▽^@)ノ

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