Golden Week is the name given to the period of time from the end of April and beginning of May, consisting of four national holidays in close succession. This is one of Japan’s biggest holidays, meaning that tourist destinations, accommodation, and travel become very busy and booked up. For many people, Golden Week in Japan is certainly something to look forward to, with lots of festivals and events being held during this week. For example, Tokyo holds an annual Spring Grand Festival at Meiji Shrine, where visitors take the opportunity to wander the gorgeous gardens that embellish the shrine. This is just one of many festivals taking place during golden week, with lots of performing arts festivals also taking place during this time.
The first National Holiday of Golden week is Showa Day on April 29th. This day was originally a celebration for the birthday of Emperor Hirohito, who passed away in 1989. Emperor Hirohito was often referred to as Emperor Showa, with ‘Showa’ referring to the era during which he ruled. Now, the purpose of the holiday is to take time to reflect on the turbulent years of the Showa period. This day has had a few changes over the years; after the death of Emperor Showa, this day actually became Greenery Day. But in 2005, this returned to being Showa Day, with Greenery Day instead taking place on the 4th of May.
Constitution Memorial Day
The next holiday is Constitution Memorial Day on May 3rd, to celebrate the present constitution coming into effect on this day in 1947. Constitution Memorial Day often involves reflecting on the meaning of democracy and the Japanese government. Many people choose to celebrate this day by visiting the Diet government buildings, which open their doors to the public and provide tours on this day. Many people enjoy the opportunity to see the place where a lot of important decisions are made in Japan. As well as this, there are many lectures at various locations throughout Japan, relating to the new constitution and Japan’s history. Additionally, some people choose to travel to Hiroshima to visit the exhibits and memorials of the people who tragically lost their lives here during World War II.
The third holiday of Golden Week takes place on May 4th, and is known as Greenery Day. On this day, Japan supposedly becomes more in tune with nature, thanking Mother Earth for her blessings. A lot of people therefore choose to attend events that bring people closer to nature, such as coming together to plant new trees. As Golden Week falls at the beginning of spring, people use Greenery Day as an opportunity to enjoy the warmer weather. Before becoming the national holiday known as Greenery Day, May 4th was already a holiday due to a law declaring that a day falling between two national holidays, must itself be a national holiday.
May 5th is Children’s Day, and is a day to respect the personality of children and celebrate their health and happiness. Traditionally, this was known as Boy’s Day and was a festival for boys, with girls having their own festival on a different day. The Carp fish is a symbol often seen on Children’s day, with many Carp-shaped flags being displayed on this day. This is because the swimming Carp represents children ‘swimming’ into adulthood and developing. The legend of the Carp in Japan’s history is that when it swims upstream, it turns into a dragon. The legend is shared to inspire children to work hard towards being the best that they can be. You can read more about Children’s Day in Japan on our blog!
Gifts during Golden Week
Gift giving is an important part of Japanese traditions, and many people choose to exchange gifts during Golden Week. For example, some parents like to offer a gift to their child during Children’s Day. In gift-giving, the act and thoughtfulness of offering the gift is what is most important, rather than the value of the gift. With a lovely selection of gifts for children, as well as a large collection of other authentic Japanese gifts, we have all of your gifting needs covered here at The Japanese Shop.