The Japanese certainly know how to work hard, have fun, and celebrate their heritage. During Golden Week (also known as Gōruden Wīku,ゴールデンウィーク, Ōgon shūkan 黄金週間, or Ōgata renkyū 大型連休), several national holidays are celebrated. During this time, Japanese businesses big and small are closed to take advantage of the extra long opportunity for rest, relaxation, and festivities.
In 1948, the National Holiday Laws announced nine official holidays, many of which occurred in a span of seven days, from the last week of April to the beginning of May. Most of Japan’s businesses, including the film industry, experienced a great increase in their revenues during this time of the year compared to others, hence its name “Golden Week.”
Golden Week has become one of Japan’s busiest holidays, next to New Year’s and Obon Week. Most Japanese get to enjoy the first weeks of spring: they plan and book their trips way in advance. The national holidays that make up Golden Week are:
Showa Day (Showa no hi 天皇誕生日)
29th of April
Since 2006, Showa Day commemorates the birthday of Japan’s beloved Emperor Showa, who passed away in 1989. This day also marks the beginning of Golden Week.
Showa Day | Summon Baka
Constitution Memorial Day (Kenpo kinenbi 憲法記念日 )
3rd of May
On May 3, 1947, the post-war constitution was put into effect. Japan is a constitutional monarchy where the Prime Minister of Japan holds most of the power. The constitution of Japan is considered “the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people.”
Greenery Day (Midori no hi みどりの日 )
4th of May
This day commemorates the love of the Japanese for the environment and nature. By Japanese law, a day that is sandwiched between two national holidays automatically becomes a national holiday as well. Most of Japan’s national parks have free admission only for this day. Greenery Day was previously celebrated on April 29.
Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi こどもの日)
5th of May
This national holiday is celebrated in honor of children and mothers. It was initially called Boys’ Day (Tango no Sekku) while Girls’ Day (Hinamatsuri) was celebrated every 3rd of March. In 1948, Tango no Sekku was renamed Kodomo no Hi or “Children’s Day” to encompass all children. On the 5th of May each year, families with sons pray for their future success and health by hanging carp streamers (koinobori) and displaying samurai dolls to depict strength, success, and power.
Koinobori | chaojikazu
Read more about Japanese holidays and festivals at other times in the year.