Golden Week in Japan is one of the busiest in Tokyo and throughout Japan. Golden week starts on April 29 with Birthday of Emperor Showa and carries on throughout the week with Constitution Day and Children’s Day. During this week, Japanese people are on the road, traveling to their hometowns to celebrate with the family. This makes it much more difficult to travel in Japan during this season.
On the other hand, there are plenty of unique Japanese celebrations occurring throughout the week, so you can participate in unique parades, floats, costumes.
There is a downside to visiting Tokyo during Golden Week. If you are going during Golden Week in Japan, be prepared for:
- Some Businesses that are closed to celebrate Golden Week. In Japan even restaurants and retail venues close down at this week
- Very Busy Trains and flights since many Japanese return to their hometowns to visit their families
- An increase in the cost of bus, plane, train, and any other public transport fares during Japan Golden week
Golden Week in Japan: Main Events and Festivals
Showa Day (Showa no hi): April 29
Birthday of Emperor Showa who died in 1989. Until 2006, it was called Greenery Day and was celebrated on May 4. Parades with elaborate floats, traditional Japanese costumes, fireworks, and paper lanterns can be seen in Tokyo. People also mark this day by planting trees and there are many other activities that focus on nature.
Popular places from which to observe the festivities in Tokyo include Tokyo Tower and Shiba Park.
Constitution Memorial Day: May 3
Celebrates the Constitution of Japan in 1947
Special Things to Do: The National Building is open to the public (only day of the year)
Address: Nagatachō Chiyoda-ku
Getting There: by subway to Nagatachō station, or to Kokkai-gijidōmae station
Children’s Day (Kodomo no hi): May 5
The festival is to celebrate the birth of children. Families pray for their son’s health and success by displaying samurai dolls which symbolize power, success, and strength in life. Other items displayed include miniature Samurai helmets, Samurai swords, Samurai armor, and silk banners with the family crest.
Special Japanese desserts and cakes for this festival include: Rice cakes (Mochi) wrapped in oak leaves, sweet rice paste wrapped in bamboo leave and Mochi filled with red bean paste. Initially May 5 th was the boys’ day. The girls’ day is called “Hinamtsun” and is celebrated on March 3. In 1948, the government created one national holiday to celebrate children of both sexes.
Even with the name change, the holiday is still mostly focused on Japanese boys.
Other Celebrations in Tokyo During Golden Week
Yumenoshima Tropical Greenhouse Dome
Yumenoshima is a manmade island built on top of garbage during the late 1950s. Today, it is recognized for being a green park and a greenhouse, which is heated using high-temperature water produced by waste disposal at the nearby garbage disposal plant. On Greenery Day, May 4, you are invited to tour the greenhouse and enjoy what it has to offer. There are a numerous activities going on such as hula dance stages, making flower bouquets, and more.
- Date: May 4
- Cost: Free
- Where: Yumenoshima Tropical Greenhouse Dome
Ginza Willow Festival (Ginza Yanagi Matsuri)
Children’s Day in Ginza is filled with events for both kids and adults: various corners hands-on workshops, retro Japanese, mini music concerts and give away willow seedlings for you to grow your own tree.
Dates: May 5
Events during Golden Week in Japan can change from year to year. I advice you to stay connected to Tokyo-Top-Guide.com through liking our Facebook page, that way you can get updated on What to do in Tokyo during this season.