11/04/2022

Golden Week, Saving Grace for Japan’s Working Class

Golden Week is a stretch of public holidays in Japan that crosses from the last week of April to the first week of May. For many of the working class in Japan, it is the ultimate opportunity to catch a break from work to go for a much-needed holiday, visit to hometown, or just rest at home to avoid the golden week crowds. In this post, we explain what exactly GW is, providing a breakdown on the public holidays that make up the week.


Table of Contents

  1. What’s Golden Week?
  2. Breakdown of Golden Week
    1. Showa Day (April 29)
    2. Constitution Memorial Day (May 3)
    3. Greenery Day (May 4)
    4. Children’s Day (May 5)
  3. Golden Week Calendar 2022/2023
    1. Golden Week 2022
    2. Golden Week 2023
  4. Did you know there’s also a Silver Week?
    1. Silver Week 2022
  5. Do you know about Gogatsubyou?

What’s Golden Week? 

Golden Week (ゴールデンウイーク), often just called GW, is a collection of national holidays that happen in the same week from April 29 to May 5. They are Showa Day, Constitution Memorial Day, Greenery Day, and Children’s Day. 

By taking leave between the gap days between the public holidays, one can enjoy a full week off! There are also people that take leave before/after Golden Week to extend their holidays for over a week, great for taking a long vacation overseas! Which is why Golden Week is one of the busiest holiday seasons in Japan besides Year End New Years (nenmatsu-nenshi 年末年始) and Obon (お盆). 

Breakdown of Golden Week

Showa Day (April 29)

Showa Day (Showa no Hi 昭和の日) is an annual holiday celebrating the late Emperor Showa (Hirohito)’s birthday. Emperor Hirohito ruled Japan from December 25, 1926 (Christmas Day) until his passing from cancer on January 7, 1989. 

Aside from being a day of remembrance of the late emperor, Showa Day is also a day of reflection of the turbulent times during the Showa Period and the hopes of many people for a brighter and peaceful future.

Fun Fact: After Emperor Hirohito’s death in 1989, Greenery Day was celebrated on April 29 in place of the Emperor’s Birthday. Until 2006 when Greenery Day was moved to May 4 and Showa Day was introduced to be celebrated on April 29.   

Constitution Memorial Day (May 3)

Constitution Memorial Day (Kenpo Kinen-bi 憲法記念日) celebrates the coming into effect of Japan’s constitution on the same day in 1947. With the enactment and subsequent coming into effect of the constitution, Japan became a constitutional monarchy country practising absolute democracy. The constitution also guaranteed fundamental human rights (Article 11) as well as renouncing the right to war (Article 9).

Greenery Day (May 4)

Greenery Day (Midori no Hi みどりの日) is dedicated to appreciating nature. Previously celebrated on April 29, it was moved to May 4. Many parks, gardens, zoos, aquariums and other nature-related facilities in Japan offer free admission on this special day to spread the love of nature. 

Children’s Day (5 May)

Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi 子供の日) celebrations carry parents’ hopes for their child(ren) to grow up healthily and happily. Koinobori 🎏 (鯉のぼり), koi-shaped windsocks, are the classic decorations for Children’s Day.  

Originally, this day was known as Tango no Sekku (端午の節句), or Boy’s Day. Girl’s Day or Hinamatsuri (ひな祭り), the female equivalent is celebrated on March 3. The classic decoration for Girl’s Day are dolls. 

Golden Week 2022/2023

Golden Week 2022

Sun

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri 

Sat

4/24

4/25

4/26

4/27

4/28

4/29
Showa
Day

4/30

5/1

5/2
Take
Leave

5/3
Constitution
Memorial Day

5/4
Greenery
Day

5/5
Children’s
Day

5/6
Take
Leave

5/7

TIP: Take leave for May 2 (Monday) and May 6 (Friday) for a 10-day stretch holiday (including the following Sunday).

Golden Week 2023

Sun

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri 

Sat

4/23

4/24

4/25

4/26

4/27

4/28

4/29
Showa
Day

4/30

5/1
Take
Leave

5/2
Take
Leave

5/3
Constitution
Memorial Day

5/4
Greenery
Day

5/5
Children’s
Day

5/6

TIP: Take leave for May 1 (Monday) and May 2 (Tue) for an 9-day stretch holiday (including the following Sunday).

Did you know there’s also a Silver Week? 

Silver Week (シルバーウイーク) is the autumn version of Golden Week. Unlike GW however, Silver Week does not occur every year as it depends a lot on whether the national holidays line up. Silver Week is made up of:

  • Respect for the Aged Day (3rd Monday of September)

  • Autumn Equinox (Not Fixed)

  • Citizens’ Holiday (Depends on Autumn Equinox)

Silver Week 2022

Sun

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri 

Sat

9/18

9/19
Respect for
the Aged Day

9/20
Take
Leave

9/21
Take
Leave

9/22
Take
Leave

9/23
Autumn
Equinox

9/24

TIP: Take leave for 3 days leave September 20~22 (Tue~Thu) for 1 week stretch holiday.

Do you know about Gogatsubyou?

Feeling Blue in May? You’ve Got Japan’s May Blues, Gogatsubyo

This article introduces Gogatsubyo (五月病), a seasonal affective disorder that afflicts people when there is a change of seasons or environments. Gogatsubyo directly translates to “May blues” or “May depression”. It occurs after Golden Week when everybody goes back to school / work. Learn more about the causes of gogatsubyo, who is in danger of it, prevention methods, and what to do when you’ve got it. 

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