Golden Week is a big deal in Japan. Started in 1948, Golden Week is one of the longest holiday seasons in the country. During this time, the perfect spring weather usually calls for travel and outdoor fun.
Spelled in katakana, the script used for English loan words, the name 'Golden Week' was coined in 1951 after the phrase ‘golden time’, which was widely used by the Japanese radio industry to refer to primetime listening hours. With so many holidays clustered together in Golden Week, a larger-than-usual number of people tuned in to the radio, attended movie theatres and spent money on leisure activities.
Starting at the end of April and finishing in the first week of May, Golden Week consists of four national holidays which sometimes line up with the weekend when luck is on our side. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 coronavirus, Golden Week travel plans have been squashed – the state of emergency is expected to finish on May 6, the end of the holiday stretch.
This is no coincidence, though: Golden Week is usually the busiest travel season, with many city dwellers travelling internationally and domestic tourists returning home on packed bullet trains and buses. This year, however, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike is discouraging travel over Golden Week, even within the city, to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government even dubbed this year's Golden Week as 'Stay-at-Home-Week'.
So, for the safety of everyone, we’ll have to celebrate our hard-earned vacation days indoors – good thing there’s plenty to do at home.
Here are the four holidays that make up Golden Week.