The school just started a month ago since the first week of April and this is what the locals have been waiting for: the Golden Week. Golden Week in Japan is one of the busiest seasons after Obon and New Year. It consists of a row of Japan’s national holidays within a week that includes:
Showa Day on April 29th (the birthday of a former emperor Showa)
Constitution Day on May 3rd (the day to commemorate the Japanese constitution put into effect in 1947 after World War II)
Greenery Day on May 4th (the day to appreciate the nature that serves all living beings)
Children’s Day on May 5th (the day to wish and pray the children for health and success in the future).
However, these dates only applied in 2016: the dates vary from year to year.
I was initially filled with excitement after hearing about this long-day vacation but stood still without any clear plans where to go and spend my vacations in. But thanks to my teacher and friends for offering me several ideas and places to explore during the vacation days before the Golden Week officially started. It is crucial to have a solid plan in advance before the holiday season starts due to the fact that Golden Week will be flooded with locals and tourists visiting various places and cities that could make the transportation and accommodation services extremely busy.
What to do during Golden Week?
The most important thing to do during this holiday season is, obviously, to get out from your comfort zone (bedroom and home). Really. Just get out from your comfort zone because this is one of your chances to actually experience real vacation when the semester is going. Golden Week may roughly be equivalent to Spring Break in the U.S. Therefore, it would be a pity to miss this opportunity, even if it is only three-day off this year — I heard in the past year Golden Week did have the whole week off.
Where to go for Golden Week?
My personal recommendation for spending the Golden Week effectively is by going to the small towns or countryside. Surprisingly, small towns and countryside do have a lot to offer such as infamous festivals and local amusements. For example, my trip to Kawagoe (~1 hour from Tokyo by train) was filled with local amusements.
For instance, if you live in Tokyo and you want to ensure that your Golden Week is well spent and becomes memorable, have side trips to small towns (Hakone, Kawagoe, Kamakura, Chichibu, etc.) or take a trip back to the mother nature to breath some fresh air after staying in a concrete jungle for quite a while (hiking in Takaozan, visiting Enoshima, camping in Okutama, etc.). Same as if you live in other big cities (like Kyoto, Osaka, Sapporo, Hiroshima, etc.), it would be a great idea to travel nearby small towns, countryside, or nature.
Also, heading to other big cities (like Kyoto, Osaka, Sapporo, Hiroshima, etc.) would help you filling out your holiday season as well. However, depending on the situation, heading to other big cities wouldn’t necessarily be a good idea – in other words, it could be a hassle. As far as I’m concerned, going to other big cities require you to book a public transportation ticket(s) and accommodation(s) way in advance due to holiday season – when there is a holiday season, there is a large crowd, obviously. Moreover, big cities can be extremely flooded by the crowds from all across Japan and even from other countries.
Photographs: Immanuel A. M. Sinambela
*these photographs have something to do with the content above. It is also for decoration purpose.