Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture, and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education in Japan and got her Master’s degree in March 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.
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Golden Week is a major holiday in Japan since a string of consecutive national holidays make it possible to travel either domestically or internationally, or to simply enjoy day trips to places that would normally feel a bit too far when you have to get up early for work the next day. For this reason, many events are also held during this period. In this article we will introduce 10 of the best things to do and places to visit if you happen to be in Japan during Golden Week 2023.
- 1. Cherry Blossom Viewing in Tohoku
- 2. Koinobori Festivals
- 3. Kawachi Wisteria Garden
- 4. Hakata Dontaku Festival
- 5. Camping by Lake Motosu
- 6. Hiking in Kamikochi
- 7. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
- 8. Amanohashidate
- 9. Kinosaki Onsen
- 10. Hachijojima Island
- Japan Wonder Travel Tours
- Other articles you might be interested in
1. Cherry Blossom Viewing in Tohoku
In Japan, the cherry blossom season starts in the south with some of the earliest flowers blooming in Okinawa and Kyushu, then gradually moving north towards Kansai and Tokyo, until it finally reaches the northern areas of Tohoku and Hokkaido. This means there’ll still be a lot of cherry blossoms to see in the north even in late April and early May, perfectly timed with Golden Week. Compared to popular sakura destinations such as Tokyo and Kyoto, some of Tohoku’s best spots to appreciate the beautiful pink flowers tend to be less crowded and overall a much more peaceful experience.
2. Koinobori Festivals
May 5 is a national holiday known as Children’s Day where people pray for the healthy growth of boys. On this day, koinobori (carp streamers) are often displayed in the gardens of Japanese homes or hanging over rivers. The streamers are often very colorful, and the sight of them gently drifting in the wind is very photogenic.
3. Kawachi Wisteria Garden
From late April to early May, a mesmerising display of white, purple and pink wisterias bloom beautifully at the scenic spot that is the Kawachi Wisteria Garden in Kitakyushu, making it a popular destination for tourists from both Japan and abroad. The whole garden truly turns into a flower wonderland and you feel like you are in a fantasy world.
Official website: Kawachi Wisteria Garden
4. Hakata Dontaku Festival
Hakata Dontaku is a major annual festival held in Fukuoka on May 3 and 4 where dancers parade through the city’s Hakata area wearing traditional Japanese costumes and carrying a rice scoop. With an impressive 33,000 participants and 2 million spectators, it is said to be the best Golden Week festival in all of Japan. The word ‘dontaku’ is believed to have originated from the word ‘Zontag’, meaning ‘Sunday’ in Dutch, and the gorgeous parade is the pride of Kyushu’s biggest city.
Official website: Hakata Dontaku Festival
5. Camping by Lake Motosu
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in nature, Lake Motosu Campground is a great place to do so. With different types of accommodation available, from cottages and bungalows to open spaces for pitching your tent, this campground offers something for everyone. The site is also equipped with coin-operated shower facilities and a bedsheet rental system, making it easy even for camping novices to stay here. Just across the road you’ll find the picturesque Lake Motosu, providing a gorgeous backdrop for your camping getaway.
Official website: Lake Motosu Camping
6. Hiking in Kamikochi
The impressive Hotaka mountain range boasts peaks that are up to 3,000 meters tall, and at its foot the Azusa River winds through the enchanting valley of Kamikochi. The hiking trails in Kamikochi are well-maintained, with some of them ideal for beginners as well, and you’ll get one of the best views from Kappabashi Bridge where you can admire the river’s crystal-clear water against the backdrop of Hotaka’s majestic peaks.
Official website: Kamikochi (only in Japanese)
7. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route in the northern part of the Japanese Alps provides a unique scenery, which can only be seen from April to June. During this time, a corridor is created with huge walls of snow on each side, reaching up to 20 meters in height. Pedestrians as well as buses can pass through the snow corridor, and visitors can enjoy the surroundings and views at their own pace.
Official website: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
Amanohashidate is located in the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture, facing the Sea of Japan. Amanohashidate is considered one of the three most scenic spots in Japan, along with Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture and Miyajima in Hiroshima Prefecture. The area is lush with many pine trees and is easily explored on foot, but there is also a convenient bicycle rental system available, making it a breeze to take in the spectacular views.
Official website: Amanohashidate
9. Kinosaki Onsen
Located in Hyogo Prefecture, Kinosaki Onsen is one of Japan’s most popular hot spring resorts with a history dating back to the Nara period, and the historic town has been featured by many authors, including Naoya Shiga in his novel “At Kinosaki”. With a river gently flowing through the charming town, Kinosaki Onsen is dotted with numerous onsen (hot springs) and ryokan (Japanese-style accommodation). The town is not only famous for its hot springs, but also for its high-quality seafood coming directly from the Sea of Japan. Some restaurants also serve Kobe beef, a type of high-grade wagyu (Japanese beef).
Official website : Kinosaki Onsen (only in Japanese)
10. Hachijojima Island
Hachijojima is an island located 286 kilometers south of Tokyo, which is home to no less than two volcanoes, Hachijo-fuji and Mt. Mihara. Both have hiking trails that are very popular among visitors as they can take in the island’s magnificent nature and views. Being an island, Hachijojima has a lot of amazingly fresh and delicious seafood, so don’t miss out on the local takes on dishes such as sashimi, sushi, and simmered fish!
Official website: Hachijojima
Many different events take place during Golden Week, but which of our 10 recommendations piqued your interest? This major holiday can be very busy with domestic travelers, but if you happen to be in Japan at this time, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the pleasantly warm spring weather and beautiful flowers blooming throughout the country!
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