When is Golden Week in Japan 2023?: Travel Tips for Long Weekends

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If you are new to Japan, you may be wondering what and when Golden Week is, something that you are probably hearing pretty often. It is an annual long holiday week from late April through early May, which consists of national holidays such as Constitution Day and Children’s Day. It is also sometimes shortened to GW, which can be easily found in guidebooks or travel magazines about Japan. Unlike many western countries, In Japan people rarely have a long vacation. For this reason, many people want to take advantage of this opportunity to travel around the country. Here are some tips on how to travel efficiently in Japan during Golden Week!  

When is Golden Week in 2023?

In 2023, Golden Week is from May 3rd(Wed) to May 5th(Fri). Although April 29th(Sat) is also a national holiday, it’s Saturday in 2023 so you will have a total of 5 days off from May 3rd – 5th.

Since the weather is usually pretty good during this time of year, it’s considered to be one of the best times to travel in Japan. If you want to visit natural wonders and enjoy outdoor activities, GW is the perfect time to do this!
Also some hotels and tour agencies offer great discounts during this period. 

Look for tour packages at JTB (in Japanese)

Golden week 2024

In 2024, Golden Week is on April 29th(Mon), and May 3rd(Fri) to May 6th(Mon).

What Holidays Make Up Golden Week?

Showa Day (April 29th)

Showa Day is a day that honors the birthday of the late Emperor Hirohito, who was the Japanese emperor during the Showa period. There is no particular event that is held on this day, but is considered as a day to look back on the good old days of the Showa period. 

Constitution Memorial Day (May 3rd)

This day celebrates the day that the Constitution of Japan was enacted in 1947. The week between May 1st to 7th is known as Constitution memorial week and there are many opportunities to study and learn the meaning and roles of the Constitution during this time. The National Diet Building is a beautiful piece of architecture with a combination of western and modern Japanese style that was built in 1936. You can visit the building and there is a tour available where you can see inside of the building

Greenery Day (May 4th)

Greenery Day is a day to appreciate nature. It used to be on April 29th in memory of the death of the Emperor of the Showa period, but along with the change of the law regarding the Japanese national holidays, the day and name were changed into Greenery Day on May 4th from 2005. The Emperor of Showa was well versed in the importance of greenery and the environment, 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 in hope and honor of children’s health and happiness. There are fun traditions that are still carried out today. If you have the time, we recommend that you at the very least try some Kashiwamochi and Chimaki which are special wagashi, or Japanese sweets, for Children’s Day. If you want to learn more about Children’s Day and how to celebrate the day, have a look at our article below!

Things To Do During Golden Week 2022

Visit Festivals

There are loads of fun spring festivals that are held in Japan. There are even festivals throughout the country that are specifically for one of the Golden Week holidays, the previously mentioned Children’s Day. Koinobori festivals are held throughout Japan from April to May where you can see hundreds of beautiful carp streamers flying in the wind!

There are also other fun traditional spring festivals that you can partake in. Spring is a time when the weather is getting warmer and flowers start to bloom nationwide. This is a great time to take advantage of this good weather and do something outside. By the end of April to early May, most of the sakura have already come and gone, but other beautiful flowers are just starting to show their faces. There are some amazing flower parks as well as flower festivals that only go on from April to May!

Check out these flower festivals in the Tokyo area in 2022:

Visit Tokyo

Tokyo Sky Tree panoramic view

As Golden Week is a time when people from bigger cities tend to take a vacation to more off the beaten path places, it can be the perfect time to visit places like Tokyo! You may find that there are fewer people in the capital than normal, and therefore things like museums, restaurants and other attractions will be less busy and crowded.

Here are some fun things to do in Tokyo:

How To Travel Efficiently in Japan During The Long Holidays

GW is known to be a very busy time to travel. Therefore it’s best to plan your trip beforehand so that everything goes smoothly.

1. Decide where to visit in Japan 

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

2. Book your transportation 

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

  • Book shinkansen and express train tickets at KiPuRu
  • バスのる.jp for a highway bus and overnight bus
  • 3. Book your accommodation

    When you have chosen your destinations and booked your transportation, the next step will be booking your accommodation. Popular options for accommodation in Japan are traditional inns called ryokan as well as hotels. Ryokan often have an onsen(hot spring bath), you can enjoy a kaiseki meal in the evening, and sleep in a traditional Japanese style bed called futon at night.
    Other than ryokan or hotels, Airbnb and B&B’s should also be available depending on the area you are staying in. You can also find stylish hostels all over Japan with cozy cafes and bars for an affordable price. 

    There is a good reason for booking things early on. Places often offer a discounted price and a lot of the sought after accomodations tend to sell out fairly quick.

    Booking.com

    How to travel around Japan safely

    1. Always wear a mask 

    In Japan you will see everyone around you wearing a mask. As a common courtesy to the people around you, be sure to keep everyone safe by wearing a mask wherever you go. Most restaurants are still open in Japan but some will ask customers not to talk at the restaurants, or wear masks all the time as a preventatory measure to help stop the spread of COVID-19. We recommend you check the rules carefully at each place. 

    2. Social distancing

    Avoid the packed places and spend more time outside with mother nature. It might even be fun 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 a great time to try it.
    Many theme parks and museums are operating at limited capacity so they can allow people to socially distance. That being said, don’t forget to book your tickets ahead of time depending on where you are going.

    3. Rent a car instead of taking public transport

    Especially in the city, you may feel uncomfortable taking public transportation jam packed with so 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 drive there if that is an option.

    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 get a better idea of where you should avoid visiting and allow you to change your plans accordingly. 

    Tour Packages

    Japan Wonder Travel Tours 

    Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan. 
    From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help you organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are visiting, our knowledgeable and friendly English speaking guides will happily take you to the best spots! 
    In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need some help! 

    Tokyo Fish Market Tour @Tsukiji – Enjoy Local Food and Drink
    Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo and try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake with one of our friendly and knowledgeable English speaking guides! 

    tsukiji tour

    Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
    There’s no better way to explore an area than taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. You will have the chance to learn about the history and interesting background stories of Tokyo, as well as discover some hidden gems which can be hard to do without a guide.

    Asakusa Tokyo private tour

    Kyoto Private Full Day Walking Tour
    On this full-day private tour of Kyoto, you will be able to see the highlights of Kyoto in just one day and at the same time develop a deeper understanding of both the culture of the area and Japan as a whole.

    Follow us on InstagramFacebook and Twitter for more travel inspiration. Or tag us to get featured! 

    Happy traveling!

    Stay informed of the best travel tips to Japan, the most exciting things to do and see, and the top experiences to have with the Japan Wonder Travel Newsletter. Every week we will introduce you to our latest content.

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