Golden Week is a national holiday that lasts from April 29th and goes through May 5th. The holiday is a collection of four national holidays within a week (Showa Day (April 29th), Constitution Memorial Day (May 3rd), Greenery Day (May 4th), and Children's Day (May 5th)).
Many companies close during the 7 - 10 days and many citizens take the holiday as an opportunity to travel.
Showa Day (April 29th)
April 29th was the birthday of the Showa Emperor, Hirohito. The purpose of this holiday is to remind Japan of Hirohito’s 63 years of rule and the hardships they faced during those times, which included the end of Taisho Democracy, the May 15th Incident (an attempted coup d'état, launched by reactionary elements of the Imperial Japanese Navy which resulted in the assassination of the Prime Minister), the February 26th Incident (an attempted coup d'état by a group of young army officers with the goal of purging the government and military leadership of their factional rivals and ideological opponents), the rise of Fascism, World War II, the post-war occupation, and Japan’s rise as a world power.
Originally the day was known as The Emperor's Birthday (which is celebrated on the birthday of the reigning Emperor). Following 1988, which saw the end of Emperor Hirohito's reign and the beginning of Emperor Akihito's, the day was renamed Greenery Day until 2006 where it was renamed Showa Day.
Constitution Memorial Day (May 3rd)
Constitution Day celebrates the Constitution of Japan. It has been a holiday since the Japanese constitution came into effect on May 3rd, 1947. On this day, Japan is called to reflect on democracy and government.
Greenery Day (May 4th)
Originally celebrated on April 29th, the Greenery Day is a day to commune with nature and to be thankful for blessings. Originally intended as a day to remember the Emperor Hirohito, the day was named "Greenery Day" to acknowledge the wartime emperor's love for plants without directly mentioning his name. The day was later named Showa Day to remember the times of turmoil during the Emperor's reign and the practice of communing with nature was moved to May 4th.
Before being declared Greenery Day, May 4th used to be a national holiday due to a law, which declares that a day that falls between two national holidays is also a national holiday, it was replaced with Greenery Day in 2006.
Children's Day (May 5th)
Designated as a national holiday in 1948, Children’s Day is a day to celebrate children’s personalities and their general happiness. The festival was originally just for boys, but has since been expanded to include girls too. The symbol of this day is the carp, which are said to represent the children swimming to adulthood and growing as human beings. Many families launch carp flags to represent this symbol.
- Golden Week is one of Japan's three busiest holiday seasons, next to New Years and the Obon week.
- The national holiday is infamous for long queues and traffic.