What is Golden Week in Japan?: Travel Tips for Long Weekends 2021

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If you are new to Japan, you may wonder what Golden Week is, that you heard very often lately. It is a long holiday week from the late April through the early May, which consists of national holidays such as Constitution Day on May 3rd and Children’s Day on May 5th. It is also sometimes shortened to GW, which can be easily found in guidebooks or travel magazines in Japan. Unlike some European countries, people rarely have a long vacation in Japan, so many people consider it as the best opportunities to travel around Japan during GW. Here we give you some tips for how to travel efficiently in Japan on GW!  

When is Golden Week in 2021 and 2022?

This year 2021, Golden Week is on May 3rd to 5th. April 29th is also the national holiday, and May 1st and 2nd is on the weekend so if you take a day off on 30th, you can get 7 days of vacation this year.  
In 2022, Golden Week is on April 29th, May 3rd to 5th.

Since usually the weather is good, and it’s the best time to travel in Japan around this time of the year. If you want to visit nature spots and enjoy outdoor activities, GW is the perfect time!
Also some hotels and tour agencies often offer the discounts during the vacation. 

Look for tour packages at JTB (in Japanese)

What holidays are on Golden Week?

Showa Day (April 29th)

Showa Day is a memorial day for the Emperor Hirohito, who was the Japanese emperor during the Showa period. There is no particular event that is held on the day, but it is considered as a day to look back on the good old days in the Showa period. 

Constitution Memorial Day (May 3rd)

It’s the day to celebrate when the Constitution of Japan came into force in 1947. The week between May 1st to 7th is a Constitution memorial week and there are many opportunities to study and learn the meaning and roles of the Constitution during the week. The National Diet Building is a beautiful building with a good mixture of western and modern Japanese style which was built in 1936. You can visit the building and there is a tour available that you can see inside of the building. 

Greenery Day (May 4th)

Greenery Day is the day to appreciate nature. It used to be on April 29th according to the death of the Emperor of Showa, but along with the change of the law regarding the Japanese national holidays, the day has moved and changed the name into Greenery Day since 2005. The Emperor of Showa was well versed in the importance of greenery and plants, and in memory of him, this day still has a deep connection to the emperor.

Children’s Day (May 5th)

Children’s Day is a celebration for children’s health and happiness. There are still fun traditions that last until today. We recommend you to at least try some Kashiwamochi and Chimaki which are special wagashi, Japanese sweets, for Children’s Day. You can also visit some festivals where you can see hundreds of koinobori, carp streamers all around Japan! If you want to know more about Children’s Day and how to celebrate the day, please read our blog linked in the blog.

How to travel efficiently in Japan during the long holidays

GW is also known as a very busy time to travel, it’s better to plan your trip beforehand to make your trip go smoothly.

1. Decide where to visit in Japan 

Not only popular tourist attractions, but there are much more to explore in Japan. When you choose your destination, we recommend visiting some hidden places. To enjoy the sunny and early spring weather, plan out glamping near Tokyo or outdoor activities around Mt.Fuji. It’s also a great time to enjoy cycling and hiking! People will be concentrated in popular areas such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, so try to avoid the busy places especially during the pandemic. 

2. Book your transportation 

There are several different ways of transportation in Japan, and if you plan to travel a long distance using plane, shinkansen or bus, we recommend you to book your transportation beforehand ―there is a possibility that you might find the seats full on the very day of your trip! 

  • Book shinkansen and express train tickets at KiPuRu
  • バスのる.jp for a highway bus and overnight bus
  • Plane tickets at Skyscanner
  • Shinkansen Mt. Fuji

    3. Book your accommodation

    When you choose the destinations and booked your transportation, the next step will be booking your accommodation. Popular options for accommodation in Japan are traditional inns called ryokan and hotels. Ryokan is often with onsen hot springs, you can enjoy a kaiseki meal in the evening, and sleep in a traditional type of bedding called futon at night.
    Other than ryokan or hotels, Airbnb and B&B will be available depending on the area. You can also find stylish hostels all over Japan with cozy cafes and bars at an affordable price. 

    There is a good reason for an early booking, they often offer the discounted price for it and also you will not miss the opportunities to stay at the best place. 

    Booking.com

    How to travel around Japan safely

    1. Always wear a mask 

    It applies to every country now, but make sure to wear a mask wherever you go.  There are still many restaurants open in Japan but some small restaurants ask customers not to talk at the restaurants, or wear masks all the time. We recommend you to check the rules carefully at each place. 

    2. Social distancing

    Avoid the packed places and spend more time outside in nature. Maybe it’s a good idea to go for a solo camping trip in Japan! Solo camping is relatively safe in Japan, and if you are interested in it, it’s the great time to try it now.
    Many theme parks and museums are operating at limited capacity due to keeping social distance, don’t forget to book your ticket ahead of time. 

    3. Rent a car instead of taking public transport

    Especially in the city, you may feel uncomfortable taking public transportation jammed with many people. If you have an international driver’s license, renting a car is probably the perfect option to get around Japan easily and safely. In the suburban area, public transportation is limited and you may have to wait for a very long time for the next bus or train. If you go to the countryside, we recommend you to go there by car if possible.

    4. Avoid the spots where new cases of Covid-19 are reported

    Check the latest news and updates frequently regarding the new cases of Covid-19 in Japan. It will help you to know where you should avoid visiting and change your trip plan flexibly depending on the situation. 

    Japan Wonder Travel Tours 

    Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency offering guided tours in Japan.
    From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we will organize the best tours for you! If you want to explore around Japan to learn more histories and backstories of the area, our knowledgeable and friendly guide will happily take you to the best spots!
    Also, we can provide you with any assistance for your upcoming trip in Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions/need some help!

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    Happy travelling!

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