Here in Australia we’ve just had Easter long weekend and then ANZAC Day, now it’s Japan’s turn to have a nice long block of public holidays!
The first week of May (between the 29th of April and 5th of May) is known as Golden Week in Japan. During this week there are four national holidays, making it one of the peak travel season for the Japanese!
April 29 Showa Day (Showa no hi): April 29 is the birthday of former Emperor Showa, who died in the year 1989. Until 2006, Greenery Day (see May 4) used to be celebrated on this day.
May 3 Constitution Day (Kenpo kinenbi): On this day in 1947, the new postwar constitution was put into effect.
May 4 Greenery Day (Midori no hi): Until 2006, Greenery Day used to be celebrated on April 29, the birthday of former Emperor Showa. The day is dedicated to the environment and nature, because the emperor loved plants and nature. Before being declared Greenery Day, May 4 used to be a national holiday due to a law, which declares a day, that falls between two national holidays, a national holiday
May 5 Children’s Day (Kodomo no hi): The Boy’s Festival (Tango no Sekku) is celebrated on this day. Families pray for the health and future success of their sons by hanging up carp streamers and displaying samurai dolls, both symbolizing strength, power and success in life. The Girl’s Festival is celebrated on March 3.
This year, Golden Week starts on the 28th of April through till the 6th of May! There are special events held on these days to celebrate this grand week of holidays and we’ve put together a little guide for you on things you can do during this year’s Golden Week.
At the Meiji Shrine in Harajuku, Tokyo, there are multiple seasonal events held during Golden Week. On the 2nd and 3rd of May, they will hold grand ceremonies for welcoming spring in the morning and in the afternoon. Not only will you get to enjoy the surrounding nature at the shrine but also traditional performing arts as well.
You can go take a look at the carp streamers known as Koi-no-bori fluttering in the wind at Tokyo Tower. There will be 333 carps in the wind, to match the heigh of Tokyo Tower, which is 333m tall.This is in celebration of Children’s Day on May 5th and the streamers will be on display until the 6th of May.
Tokyo Rainbow Pride
Tokyo’s LGBTQIA Pride festival, Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade will be held on the very last week of Golden Week, on the 6th of May. Over the weekend of the 5th and 6th, there will be fantastic performances and events held at Yoyogi Park in Shibuya as well.
Japan’s music festival, Summer Sonic is well know, but during this Golden Week, a different ‘sonic’ festival, Food Sonic will be held in Osaka’s Nakanoshima area. For 500 yen entry you get access to vendors of all sorts of cuisines and with beverage company Santory as a sponsor, no doubt there will be ample beer and drinks to wash down the food.
Yabusame Arrow Shooting Festival
On the 3rd of May at Kyoto’s Shimogamo Shrine, a traditional ritual of the Aoi Festival will be performed. This involves men dressed in traditional clothing, galloping and shooting arrows known as ‘kabura-ya’ from horseback.
There are also many parks across the country that hold Azaleas festivals over Golden Week. It’s a lovely way to spend your afternoon walking amongst such vibrantly coloured flowers!