Golden Week 2019
The Japanese imperial family
Crown prince and future emperor Naruhito
Emperor Akihito wore the sokutai at the enthronement ceremony in November, 1990.
Tips for traveling
Golden Week this year is especially long, and will be from Saturday, April 27th to Sunday, May 5th, 2019. With all the usual holidays, plus another to commemorate the abdication of Emperor Akihito and the rise of his son Naruhito to the throne, it's a busy week for the Japanese!
Why Golden Week?
The phenomenon known as "Golden Week" is caused by a string of national holidays that take place between late April and early May throughout Japan.
- April 29 : Showa Day (Showa no hi), the birthday of the former Emperor Showa, who died in 1989.
- May 3 : Constitution Day (Kenpo kinenbi), in honor of the post-war Japanese constitution that came into effect in 1947
- May 4 : Nature Day (Midori no hi), a day dedicated to nature and the environment.
- May 5 : Children's Day (Kodomo no hi), a day when families pray for the health and future success of their sons (the day for girls is on March 3rd).
To read: Golden Week
In 2019, Emperor Akihito will abdicate on April 30th. This will be followed by the ascent to the throne of the new emperor on May 1st, and the day will become a national holiday. As a result, April 30th and May 2nd will also become holidays (because by law, a day between two holidays also becomes a holiday), creating a 10-day holiday: April 27th to May 6th.
Also note that it's during this historic Golden Week that the Heisei era will end and the new Japanese era Reiwa will begin.
Some tips for travelers
Trains, airports and tourist spots are extremely busy during Golden Week, and accommodation in tourist areas, especially at ryokan and onsen resorts, are booked very far in advance by the Japanese themselves.
This is because Golden Week is a rare opportunity for them to go on holiday with family or friends, since everyone is on vacation at the same time.
If you'll be traveling during this period, we have some tips for you...
For your days of travel from one city to another, we advise you not to choose the first and last days of Golden Week. These days are particularly crowded by Japanese travellers and it will be very hard for you to find a place in the middle of the crowd.
In fact, all the seats in trains between Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka have been booked! If you have to travel on these days, you will have to queue on the platform to get into the train cars with unreserved seats. There are a few hundred per train, but the demand will be high so get ahead of your schedule and get to the station as early as possible. To locate the cars corresponding to its places, English signs are present on the platforms. But if you can't find it, ask station staff for "jiyu seki"!
For your visits to the most touristy places in the country, try to counter the crowd by going there at the time of opening or at mealtimes. But if you can, plan your visits to cities such as Nara or Kyoto before or after these 10 days.
Many places in Japan are not well equipped for payment by credit card, and it's always recommended to plan ahead and arrive in the country with a lot of yen at the ready. This is even more the case during the Golden Week! This is because some ATMs operate on the schedules of banks, and with them being closed for several days, it can sometimes be difficult to withdraw money during Golden Week. So be careful and plan ahead!
Discover: The events of 2019