Golden Week is the name given to the period of time from the end of April to the beginning of May, consisting of four national holidays in close succession. Golden Week 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, as the country is filled with lots of performing arts festivals.
Golden Week Festivals in Japan
The first National Holiday of Golden week is Showa Day, which takes place 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 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 became Greenery Day. But in 2005, this returned to being Showa Day, with Greenery Day now taking place on May 4th.
Constitution Memorial Day
The next national holiday is Constitution Memorial Day on May 3rd. This holiday celebrates 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. In addition, many people enjoy the opportunity to see the place where many important decisions are made in Japan. Alongside tourist attraction visits, 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 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. Therefore, many people choose to attend events that bring people closer to nature, such as coming together to plant new trees, or appreciating the cherry blossom trees. Furthermore, 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 children’s personalities 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. Nowadays, the two genders now share the same holiday. The Carp fish is a symbol often seen on Children’s Day, with many Carp-shaped flags being displayed on this day. The swimming Carp represents children ‘swimming’ into adulthood and their development in this endeavour. The legend of the Carp in Japanese history relates to an old story, stating that when a Carp swims upstream, it turns into a dragon. The legend is shared to inspire children to work hard to be the best they can be.
Gifts During Golden Week
Gift-giving is an important part of Japanese tradition, and so 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 and a large collection of other authentic Japanese gifts, we have all of your gifting needs covered here at The Japanese Shop.