Golden Week is a collection of four national holidays normally held within a period of seven days in combination with well placed weekends. It is right up there with the New Year’s and Obon holidays in terms of length and time to get out and about. Although getting out and about will either take money, time in traffic or a clever idea about how to go where no-one else is going.
With so many people having so much time off simultaneously it means that trains, airports and sightseeing spots are overly crowded, and finding accommodation can be a real challenge unless you have booked well in advance.
Normally the national holidays which make up Golden Week are:
April 29 (Friday) Showa Day (Showa no hi)
April 29 is the birthday of former Emperor Showa, who died in the year 1989. Until 2006 this was called Greenery Day which was moved to May 4th.
May 3 (Wednesday) Constitution Day (Kenpo kinenbi)
This day celebrates the enactment of the post-war Japanese constitution.
May 4 (Saturday) Greenery Day (Midori no hi):
As mentioned previously Greenery Day used to be celebrated on April 29 until Until 2006 when the day was given over to honor the birthday of the deceased Emperor Showa (Hirohito).
The day is dedicated to the environment and nature, because the emperor loved plants and nature. Before being declared Greenery Day, May 4 was a national holiday due to a law which declares a day that falls between two national holidays a national holiday. See this is easy!
May 5 (Sunday, observed May 6) Children’s Day (Kodomo no hi)
This day was celebrates the traditional boys’ festival (tango no sekku). 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. You will see the carp streamers virtually everywhere and they begin to appear at the beginning of the month.
That’s how it normally goes; add in the weekends etc. and the length varies, but this year is VERY different!
The BIG news for 2019
In 2019 Golden Week will be celebrated unlike ever before with a 10 day holiday. That’s right folks – TEN DAYS.
This year the Emperor is scheduled to abdicate on April 30, followed by the ascension to the throne of the new Emperor on May 1 which will be made a national holiday. As a result, April 30 and May 2 will also become national holidays (because according to law, a day between two holidays also becomes a holiday), creating an unprecedented, consecutive 10-day holiday from April 27 to May 6.
Travel activity is expected to peak around the beginning and end of the holiday period.
So this means that this year’s Golden Week will last 10 days between Saturday April 27 and Monday May 6.
What to do? Where to go?
Well with all this time on your hands you could be forgiven for wondering what to do if going anywhere and doing anything is crowded and expensive – and you would be right. Also let’s not forget that some people will have to work, people with kids but schools and kindergartens will be shut. When recently asked about the matter the government basically said it was looking into it but, well there isn’t much to be done about it now is there?
BBQ In The Park
For those of you who have time but either haven’t made plans or don’t have the dosh to go on vacay here are some ideas we came up with for a “staycation”:
The city is full of parks that allow BBQ grills and the weather in May is temperate so why not head out to Heiwa Park, Shonai Park or and make a day of it – or two.
It is a bit cold to camp up north but there are some great beach side and lake side campgrounds in Mie and Wakayama. You will still need to dress warmly but some campgrounds rent cabins.
If you have kids you might take them to “Spo-Cha” – an you can play game center – that has everything from basketball, table tennis, badminton, bating cages as well as innumerable video games and shooting arcades. You can also bowl and they have karaoke as well. They tend to be be full so you should call in advance and make a reservation. While parents don’t have to enter with the kids there is really no place to wait for them – literally no cafe or chairs or anything – so you might as well go inside as well. You can purchase all day play tickets or choose from 3 hour or 90 minute packages. There are a few around town so check which one is closest to you but this one is very popular and has more activities than the other ones.
2-23 Hozo-cho, Nagakawa-ku
Go Karts at Seaside Circuit
Located next to Costco and the Big Aeon shopping complex at Tokoname, the Seaside Circuit gives you the thrill of being a race car driver on a genuine go kart track. The ride lasts about 8 minutes (depending on how fast you go) and they provide you with all the gloves, helmets and equipment you need. There is a ¥300 charge for first time registration and they have go karts for adults as well as kids.
The adult go kart is priced at ¥2,200 for men and ¥1,600 for women and includes insurance. Anyone over 13 and 1.45m tall can rent this cart but if you don’t have a driver’s license you will need to take a safety lesson.
Two-seater karts are also available for ¥2,900 for a driver’s license holder and a child over the age of 6 can ride as a passenger.
Junior go karts are available for drivers over the age of 7 and cost ¥1,600. For the really little ones they have kid’s go carts for ¥500 and anyone over the age of 3 can drive!