Golden Week (Japan)

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Golden Week
Observed by Japan
Type National
Date April 29, May 3-5
Duration 7 days
Frequency annual

Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク Gōruden Wīku?), often abbreviated to GW, is a Japanese term applied to the period containing the following public holidays:

†: "kokumin no kyūjitsu" or "citizen's holiday" is a generic term for any official holiday. May 4 was until 2007 an unnamed but official holiday because of a rule that converts any day between two holidays into a new holiday.

Note that May Day (on May 1) is not a public holiday. Instead, Japan has Labour Thanksgiving Day, a holiday with a similar purpose. When a public holiday lands on a Sunday, the next day that is not already a holiday becomes a holiday for that year.[3]


The National Holiday Laws, promulgated in July 1948, declared nine official holidays. Since many were concentrated in a week spanning the end of April to early May, many leisure-based industries experienced spikes in their revenues. The film industry was no exception. In 1951, the film Jiyū Gakkō recorded higher ticket sales during this holiday-filled week than any other time in the year (including New Year's and Obon). This prompted the managing director of Daiei Film Co., Ltd. to dub the week "Golden Week" based on the Japanese radio lingo “golden time,” which denotes the period with the highest listener ratings.[4]

At the time, April 29 was a national holiday celebrating the birth of the Shōwa Emperor. Upon his death in 1989, the day was renamed "Greenery Day."[2]

In 2007, Greenery Day was moved to May 4, and April 29 was renamed Shōwa Day to commemorate the late Emperor.[2]

Current practice[edit]

Many Japanese take paid time off on the intervening work days, but some companies are also closed down completely and give their employees time off. Golden Week is the longest vacation period of the year for many Japanese jobs. Two other holidays may also be observed for most or all of a week: Japanese New Year in January and Obon Festival in August. Golden Week is an extremely popular time to travel. Flights, trains, and hotels are often fully booked despite their significantly higher rates at this time. Popular foreign destinations in Asia, Guam, Saipan, Hawaii, and major cities on the west coast of North America, such as Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, and Vancouver, as well as in Europe and Australia, are affected during these seasons by huge numbers of Japanese tourists.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Japanese Holidays". Retrieved 2010-02-05. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Golden Week". 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2010-02-05. 
  3. ^ "Golden Week in Japan - Japanese Golden Week". 1947-05-03. Retrieved 2010-02-05. 
  4. ^ "ゴールデンウィーク - 語源由来辞典". Retrieved 2010-02-05.