Golden Week – When, How Long, and Why?

What is Golden Week?

If you’re living in Japan, there’s no doubt you’ve heard about the once-in-a-lifetime super 10-day Golden week holiday this year! For those who don’t know much about it, Golden week refers to the last week in April/first week in May where several national holidays are all lumped together. 

The term ‘Golden week’ was apparently coined by the film industry in the 1950s when revenues spiked due to most of the country having time off work and school. During this week, you should expect restaurants, museums, and other recreational activities to be crowded and full of customers. However, there’s no need to start stocking up on tinned goods – most of the service industry (hotels, convenience stores, supermarkets, etc.) will be open for some or even all of the duration of the holiday.

When is Golden Week and why is it Special this Year? 

This year’s ‘super’ golden week will be from the 27th of April until the 6th of May. Teachers, students, and office workers will likely get a whopping 10-days off, but you check with your company first. 

Why so Long?

As well as the usual national holidays (Showa Day, Greenery Day, Constitutional Memorial Day, Children’s Day), this year Japan also gets days off when the emperor abdicates the throne and when his son, the crown prince succeeds the throne. 

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How to Cope?

While the idea of 10 days of is the highlight of the year to many, for some people, it means a lower wage or even longer and busier work hours. To help counter this, the Japanese government is thinking about giving extra funding to daycare centers, as well as paying for some employees to have their days off compensated. The government is also considering what the best way to deal with services that cannot easily take days off, such as garbage collection/disposal, hospitals, and nursing homes, etc.

For those planning to visit popular tourist areas, you should expect long delays and queues, and many companies to be closed or running on Sunday hours. For those visiting or leaving Japan, expect hotels and plane flights to be at peak prices (although flights into Japan during the start of Golden week may not be too bad since most of the people will be leaving, not returning at this point). 

Other than that, think ahead, make reservations where possible, and enjoy a whopping 10 days off!