This year’s Golden Week Holidays are extra special, and 2019 is the year breeding change. As a Japanese or foreign resident, or even a tourist experiencing Japan at this time, it could be especially unique too. Particularly, as they will witness the change of an era, the change of an imperial emperor and perhaps a changing Japan too. It is also the first time the Government has approved a special 10 days holiday for Golden Week.
Generally, the Golden Week break is a time for most of Japan to pack their bags and mobilise. As a result, services like the Shinkansen (bullet train), night buses and even domestic flights can sell out very quickly. You may also see a spike in accommodation and international flights, as they catch on to the peak season for travel.
Thus, if you choose to travel to Japan at this time, it could definitely make or break your experience. For example, rush hour trains won’t be a problem during this time, but outbound domestic services might be crowded. If you visit popular sightseeing spots or areas, also allow more time for travel and moving around due to potential overcrowding. Also, if you plan to use the shinkansen or similar services, make sure you book in advance as much as possible to avoid disappointment.
April 29 – Showa Day
昭和の日 (しょうわのひ or Showa no hi) is the birthday of the late Emperor Showa, who passed in 1989. He was Japan’s ruler throughout the World War II period.
May 3 – Constitution Day
憲法の記念日 (けんぽうのきねんび Kenpou no kinen bi) is the celebration of Japan’s post-war constitution. This was implemented back in 1947, after the end of World War II.
May 4 – Green Day
緑の日 (みどりのひ or Midori no hi) as you would expect is dedicated to nature and the environment. Emperor Showa was deemed a lover of all kinds of plant life, including shrubs and flowers, and this day honours this fact.
May 5 – Children’s Day
子供の日 (こどものひ Kodomo no hi) translates into Children’s day but is really a celebration of family’s sons. 端午の節句 (たんごのせっく or Tango no sekku) is another term they use for Boy’s Day (Festival). On this day, families usually celebrate their sons by praying for the future health and good fortune. Around this time you may see a lot of streamers of carp fish hung around towns and streets. This is to wish them luck, strength and success in life. Girl’s Day (Festival) aka 雛祭り (ひなまつり or Hina Matsuri) is when families celebrate their daughters.
2019 The Year of Change
The above days are the standard features of Golden Week. In addition, 2019 will see additional holidays in line with the change in Era to 令和 (れいわ or Reiwa) that was announced on April 1.
May 1 – Emperor’s Throne Day
天皇の即位の日 (てんのうのそくいのひ Ten’no no sokui no hi) is the beginning of the new Reiwa Era. It will also see the change in Emperor. The current Emperor Akihito will retire from the throne. Subsequently, he will be succeeded by the Crown Prince Naruhito.
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