Golden Week Travel Advice
Our tips and advices for travelling during Golden Week in Japan
Japan will celebrate Golden Week from April 29 to May 7, 2023, which comprises four national holidays: Showa Day on April 29, Constitutional Memorial Day on May 3, Greenery Day on May 4, and Children's Day on May 5.
Be aware of Japanese bank holidays so that you are not taken by surprise when arriving in Japan! It remains Japan busiest time to travel: here is our advice for traveling during Golden Week!
What is Golden Week?
Golden Week is a cluster of national holidays in Japan that occur in late April and early May. It includes Showa Day on April 29, which is the birthday of Emperor Showa, who ruled Japan during World War II. On May 3, Constitution Day is celebrated in honor of the ratification of the Japanese constitution in 1947. May 4 is Green Day, which honors the environment and the late Emperor's love for nature, flowers, and plants. Finally, May 5 is Children's Day, a festival celebrating young men with outdoor displays of carp streamers, symbolizing their strength and success in life.
Although Golden Week can be crowded and challenging to navigate for international travelers, it also offers unique travel opportunities. If you plan on traveling to Japan during this special week of activity, consider the following suggestions to make the most of your trip.
The origin of the Golden Week
The term "Golden Week" originated from a surge in revenue observed by leisure and entertainment professionals during this period. With the national holidays, Japanese people tend to visit cinemas, stores, and amusement parks more frequently, leading to record-breaking admissions.
This prompted industry leaders to coin the term "Golden Week," similar to the radio's peak listening period known as "Golden Time." The name stuck, and it is now widely used by the population to refer to this holiday period.
During Golden Week, numerous businesses and schools remain closed, allowing people to fully enjoy their time off.
Are you travelling to Japan during Golden Week?
Before you do, it's important to understand that this week-long holiday season is more than just a string of celebrations. With somber holidays like Showa Day and Constitution Day, Golden Week offers a chance to reflect on Japan's complex history and gain a deeper understanding of the country.
While it's tempting to focus on commercial celebrations like fancy restaurants or pricey resorts, it's also essential to observe the traditional meaning of these holidays. Plan ahead to avoid the crowds and secure tickets for popular attractions like Tokyo Disneyland or Universal Studios Japan.
Just be aware that prices during Golden Week may be higher than usual, so budget accordingly to avoid any unpleasant surprises. With careful planning and a balance between commercial and traditional celebrations, you can make the most of your Golden Week experience and enjoy a relaxing and enlightening holiday season in Japan.
Looking for unique experiences during the national holiday week in Japan?
Don't limit yourself to crowded tourist hotspots! I Golden Week in Japan is a wonderful time of the year, as it occurs during spring, a season filled with warmth and long sunny days. Although it's after the cherry blossom season, the ambiance is laid-back and serene during this national holiday week.
However, if you're traveling on a budget, you might want to consider visiting Japan a week or so before or after Golden Week. But if you've already booked your flights during this period, don't worry! You can still make the most of it by securing tickets to your must-see attractions and booking accommodations as soon as possible.
You can also consider exploring hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path destinations. Enjoy the beautiful spring weather by trying activities near Tokyo, hiking around Mt. Fuji, or cycling through scenic routes. Avoid the hustle and bustle of popular areas like Kyoto and Osaka and opt for less crowded places to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
Make the most of your vacations in Japan during the Golden Week!
From cultural explorations to outdoor adventures: Find your perfect activity.
Book your transportation in advance
To ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip during Golden Week, it's essential to book your transportation in advance. Train reservations in Japan can be made upon arrival, but it's recommended to do so as early as possible, especially if you're using a Japan Rail Pass.
Reserving seats in advance can save you time and ensure that you have a comfortable journey.
Detailed planning is crucial, so make sure you have a clear itinerary for each day of your trip. Knowing where you're going and when can help you avoid long lines and overcrowded transportation, giving you more time to enjoy your Golden Week adventure.
Even if you have a Japan Rail Pass, make sure to reserve your train seats ahead of time at no extra cost.
Additionally, consider traveling in the opposite direction of major tourist spots, such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, as many Japanese travelers will be heading there. This way, you can experience the convenience of the shinkansen without dealing with massive crowds and queues.
If you're unable to avoid crowded trains, be prepared to stand and bring snacks and drinks. It's also best to arrive early at the station and avoid highway buses or rental cars on expressways to prevent getting stuck in traffic jams.
While normally on-the-spot seat reservations for trains are fine (for example, going to a train station at 10:30 am to book a seat on an 11:15 train), during Golden Week this may be more difficult to do.
If you are traveling in a large group, you may also find it difficult to get seat reservations so that all members can seat together.
Overall, detailed planning is essential for a smoother and more enjoyable trip during Golden Week. Know your destinations and schedule your travels accordingly, such as traveling early in the morning instead of midday.
With some preparation and flexibility, you can still make the most of Japan's world-famous bullet trains without the stress of massive crowds.
Travel by trains during Golden Week
Upon arrival in Japan, you can activate your Japan Rail Pass and designate any start date within 30 days. This means that even if you do not plan to use your pass right away, you can have your rail pass ready to start. With this activated rail pass, even if it has not started yet, you can take it to a ticket office to make seat reservations. This is the best way to plan in advance.
This means that even if you cannot make a reservation for the exact train you want, you can get on a train. You may not be able to sit together with your fellow travellers, and you may even need to stand for part of the way.
During Golden Week, there is a surge in travel, which means you may experience longer lines and delays when using your Japan Rail Pass. To avoid any inconvenience, it's best to allow extra time for your travel.
Golden Week is crowded, but please do not worry ! You will not be stuck in one city, and you will be able to get where you want to go.
Pick up & return of your Pocket Wifi
Due to long vacation during Golden Week, some providers may suspend the delivery of pocket wifi devices. This may result in longer waiting periods for those who wish to rent a pocket wifi for their travels in Japan.
However, customers can still rent and pick up their pocket wifi devices at designated locations, such as airports or rental shops. It is advisable to make a reservation in advance to ensure availability, and to check with the provider for any updates regarding delivery suspensions or alternative pickup options.
By planning ahead and staying informed, travelers can enjoy a smooth and hassle-free wifi rental experience during Golden Week.
Read more on traveling by trains in Japan!
- Seat reservations with your japan rail pass
- IC cards in japan
- Japan train etiquette
- The hikari/nozomi/kodama shinkansen
- Transportation in tokyo