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Golden Week in Japan: A Celebration of Spring

Golden Week is one of the most important holidays in Japan. It’s a time when Japanese people celebrate spring and spend time with family and friends. The week consists of several public holidays that take place at the end of April and beginning of May. It’s a time when many Japanese people take a break from work and school to enjoy the spring weather and participate in various cultural events and festivals.

History of Golden Week in Japan

Golden Week in Japan has its roots in several different holidays and traditions. The first holiday of Golden Week is Showa Day, which commemorates the birthday of Emperor Showa, who was Japan’s emperor during World War II. The holiday was originally known as Greenery Day and was created in 1989 to celebrate the emperor’s love of nature. In 2007, the holiday was renamed Showa Day to honor the emperor’s legacy.

The second holiday of Golden Week is Constitution Memorial Day, which commemorates the adoption of Japan’s post-war constitution on May 3, 1947. The holiday was established in 1948 to promote peace and democracy in Japan.

The third holiday of Golden Week is Greenery Day, which was established in 1989 to encourage people to appreciate nature and the environment. The holiday was moved to May 4 in 2007 when Showa Day was established.

The final holiday of Golden Week is Children’s Day, which takes place on May 5. The holiday was originally known as Boys’ Day and was established to celebrate the health and happiness of boys. In 1948, the holiday was renamed Children’s Day to celebrate the health and happiness of all children.

Golden Week in Japan
The changing of horses at Fujieda, twenty-third of the 53 post towns of the Tokaido as depicted by Utagawa Hiroshige (1833-34) | VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Names for Golden Week in Japanese

In Japanese, Golden Week is known as “ゴールデンウィーク” (gōruden wīku). Each holiday within Golden Week also has its own name in Japanese. Showa Day is known as “昭和の日” (Showa no hi), Constitution Memorial Day is known as “憲法記念日” (Kenpō kinenbi), Greenery Day is known as “みどりの日” (Midori no hi), and Children’s Day is known as “こどもの日” (Kodomo no hi).

Showa Day (April 29th)

Showa Day is a day that commemorates the birthday of Emperor Showa, who reigned over Japan from 1926 to 1989. It is a time to reflect on the accomplishments and challenges of his reign and to pay tribute to his legacy.

Dancers at Showa Day Ceremony, Meiji Jingu, Tokyo, Japan Stock Photo – Alamy

Constitution Day (May 3rd)

Constitution Day is a day that commemorates the adoption of Japan’s post-World War II constitution, which was enacted on May 3rd, 1947. It is a time to reflect on the values and principles that underpin Japan’s democratic society.

Japan’s Constitution Memorial Day

Greenery Day (May 4th)

Greenery Day is a day that celebrates the importance of nature and the environment in Japanese culture. It was established in 1989, following the death of Emperor Showa, who was known for his love of nature.

Greenery Day 2020 in Japan Date

Children’s Day (May 5th)

Children’s Day is a day that celebrates the health and happiness of children in Japan. Families often display colorful koinobori, or carp-shaped windsocks, outside their homes to symbolize the strength and determination that children need to succeed in life.

Children’s Day Japan | Via Japanexperterna.se

What Golden Week Means to Japanese People

Golden Week is one of the most important holidays in Japan, and it’s a time when Japanese people take a break from work and school to celebrate spring and spend time with family and friends. Many people use the holiday as an opportunity to travel, either within Japan or abroad, and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. It’s also a time when many cultural events and festivals take place throughout the country.

For many Japanese people, Golden Week is a time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. The holiday includes several important dates in Japanese history, including the adoption of Japan’s post-war constitution and the birthday of Emperor Showa. It’s a time to celebrate the country’s achievements and progress, and to look ahead to a bright future.

Festivals during Golden Week

During Golden Week, there are many cultural events and festivals that take place throughout Japan. Some of the most popular festivals include:

  1. Sanja Matsuri: This festival takes place in Tokyo’s Asakusa neighborhood and is one of the city’s biggest festivals. It’s a celebration of the three founders of the Senso-ji temple and includes a parade of portable shrines and traditional performances.
  2. Takayama Spring Festival: This festival takes place in the mountain town of Takayama and is known for its elaborate floats and traditional music performances.
  3. Kanda Matsuri: This festival takes place in Tokyo’s Kanda neighborhood and is known for its colorful procession of mikoshi (portable shrines) and traditional costumes.
  4. Hakata Dontaku: This festival takes place in the city of Fukuoka and features a parade of floats, dancers, and musicians dressed in colorful costumes.
  5. Aoi Matsuri: This festival takes place in Kyoto and features a procession of people dressed in Heian-period costumes and carrying flowers and other offerings to the city’s shrines.
Sanja Matsuri, Asakusa

In addition to these festivals and events, there are also many other ways to celebrate Golden Week in Japan. Here are a few ideas:

  • Take part in a traditional tea ceremony, which is a serene and contemplative ritual that has been practiced in Japan for centuries.
  • Visit one of Japan’s many hot springs, or onsen, and soak in the natural mineral-rich waters.
  • Take a day trip to one of Japan’s beautiful national parks, such as Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park or Nikko National Park.

No matter how you choose to celebrate Golden Week in Japan, it is sure to be a time of reflection, celebration, and appreciation for the many aspects of Japanese culture. It is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the customs and traditions of this fascinating country and to gain a deeper understanding of its people and history.

It is worth noting that Golden Week is a popular time for travel within Japan, and many people take advantage of the extended holiday to explore new places and experience new things. However, it is also a busy time, and hotels and transportation can be crowded and expensive. If you are planning to visit Japan during Golden Week, it is important to book your accommodations and transportation well in advance to avoid any issues.

Other Information Related to Golden Week

During Golden Week, many businesses and tourist attractions in Japan may be closed or have limited hours, so it’s important to plan ahead if you’re traveling during this time. Additionally, transportation can be crowded and expensive, so it’s recommended to book tickets in advance.

In recent years, there has been some debate about the timing of Golden Week. Some people argue that the week is too long and disrupts business and school schedules, while others argue that it’s an important time for rest and reflection.

Despite these debates, Golden Week remains an important holiday in Japan and a time for celebration and reflection. It’s a time when Japanese people come together to appreciate the beauty of spring and reflect on the country’s achievements and progress. Whether you’re traveling or staying close to home, Golden Week is a great opportunity to experience Japanese culture and traditions.

Noah

You see, my love for Japan is not only based on personal experience; it's based on a deep admiration for Japanese culture, history, and traditions. Thank you, Japan, for being a constant source of inspiration, joy, and wonder in my life. I may never be able to express my love for Japan in person, but I hope that through my blog and my writing, I can share a small piece of my admiration and devotion with the world.

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