Golden Week in Japan

Golden Week in Japan















Recently Japan celebrated Golden Week and Robert Gumley, our Asia VP Revenue and based in Japan, wrote to tell us more.

Golden Week is a series of four public holidays that occur close to one another starting with Showa Day on April 29. Showa was the name of the period when Emperor Hirohito was on the throne. The period of each Emperor's reign is given a special name. The present period is Reiwa, and 2020 is the second year of Reiwa.

The next Golden Week holiday is Constitution Day on May 3, celebrating the ratification of Japan's constitution in 1947. Then Green Day on May 4 which is to celebrate nature and the environment. And finally, May 5 is a holiday to celebrate Children's Day. It’s called Children's Day but actually it is mainly for little boys. Little girls have their own day on March 3. On May 5, houses with small boys often fly beautiful streamers in the shape of carp fish.

Because of a law in Japan that says a day sandwiched between two holidays is also a holiday, if April 29 falls on a Friday then most people have a 10 day holiday from April 29 to May 8. Now that is really a golden week!

Japan is probably one of the few countries in the world where the government has a policy of encouraging people to take more time off. For example, 2 years ago, a new policy was introduced called Premium Friday. It was to encourage people to leave work early on the fourth Friday of the month. Although most Japanese are entitled to 15 to 20 days paid vacation a year almost no one actually takes them. One quarter of the working population works an average of 80 hours of overtime per month.

Karoshi or death from overwork is an ongoing problem in Japan. Premium Friday has also had an economic impact as well as a social motive which was a way to encourage people to go out and spend money to help the economy. But also to give young people more chances to meet, which would hopefully lead to more marriages and more children to offset Japan's aging society.

Golden Week is something to be celebrated in Japan if you don't mind crowds of people everywhere you go and higher prices for restaurants, hotels and transport. If not, then it's not exactly a golden time to visit Japan.