Golden Week is a period in Japan from 29 April to early May.
Golden Week is a popular time for holiday travel. Despite significantly higher rates, flights, trains, and hotels are often fully booked. Popular sites for visitors may be very crowded during these times.
Popular destinations for Japanese include Asia, Guam, Saipan, and Hawaii, and major cities on the West Coast of North America such as Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, and Vancouver, and a number of cities in Europe and Australia.
- April 29: Shōwa Day (昭和の日 Shōwa no Hi)
- May 3: Constitution Memorial Day (憲法記念日 Kenpō Kinenbi): celebrated in honor of the ratification of the Japanese constitution in 1947.
- May 4: Green Day (みどりの日 Midori no Hi): It honors the environment, as Emperor Showa was a lover of nature, flowers, and plants.
- May 5: Children's Day (子供の日 Kodomo no Hi), also known as Boys' Day or the Feast of Banners, traditionally celebrated as Tango no Sekku (端午の節句). It is a festival in celebration of young men. Towns and families often hang carp streamers outdoors to represent the presence of young men within and to wish them strength and success in life, although the day is being broadened to include daughters. At home families also display samurai dolls that represent strength and success. This is to pray for a healthy and successful life for the children.
Golden Week is avoided by many international travelers because of the challenges of navigating crowded transportation and attractions. The busiest days are May 3, when many people leave the major cities, and May 5 and 6, when they returning home. From 2019, the government has proposed to extend Golden Week to include April 30 and May 1 to mark the expected abdication of the Emperor and the subsequent succession. This would make travel impacts harder to predict.
Most offices in Japan close during Golden Week, some up to 10 days. Make sure you have enough cash on you as you might have a hard time withdrawing money. Typically ATMs do not allow withdrawals during Golden Week.
During Golden Week, festivals are celebrated in nearly every Japanese city. These may include events for viewing wisteria or azalea flowers, historical parades, or cultural celebrations.
Many Tokyoites vacation elsewhere during Golden Week, so you'll have shorter waits and fewer crowds at Tokyo’s restaurants, parks, museums, and other attractions. A Hawaiian festival takes place in Tokyo during Golden Week, and there is the Spring Grand Festival at the Meiji Shrine.
Enjoy the outdoors
The weather is typically mild during Golden Week, with comfortable outdoor temperatures. However, flower parks may be crowded with people going to see the azaleas, wisteria, and tulips.
If possible, avoid traveling to Japan during Golden Week. If you can't help it, consider the following tips to manage your trip:
- Make your reservations early: 3-6 months in advance is recommended for Japan. This includes reserved train seating, airline tickets, hotels, and tours. You can activate your Japan Rail Pass up to 30 days before you plan to use it. Once you've activated your pass, you can make seat reservations.
- Allow extra time for travel. You may encounter long lines or delays. Be sure to allow extra time to accommodate any
- Enjoy what's local. One way to beat the crowds is to avoid using the highways, public transportation, and tourist attractions. Instead, plan to pursue activities within walking distance of your accommodations.