Golden Week (Japan)
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Observed by Japan
Date April 29, May 3-5
Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク, Gōruden Wīku?), also known as Ōgata renkyū (大型連休?) or Ōgon shūkan (黄金週間?), is a Japanese term applied to the period containing the following public holidays:
Emperor’s Birthday (天皇誕生日, Tennō tanjōbi?), until 1988
Greenery Day (みどりの日, Midori no hi?), from 1989 until 2006
Shōwa Day (昭和の日, Shōwa no hi?), from 2007
Constitution Memorial Day (憲法記念日, Kenpō kinenbi?)
Holiday† (国民の休日, Kokumin no kyūjitsu?), from 1985 until 2006
Greenery Day (みどりの日, Midori no hi?), from 2007
Children’s Day (こどもの日, Kodomo no hi?), also customarily known as Boys’ Day (端午の節句, Tango no sekku?).
†: “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
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 Films to dub the week “Golden Week” based on the Japanese radio lingo “golden time,” which denotes the period with the highest listener ratings.
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.”
In 2007, Greenery Day was moved to May 4, and April 29 was renamed Shōwa Day to commemorate the late Emperor.
Many Japanese take paid time off on the intervening work days, but some companies also close 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: Oshōgatsu in January and Obon in August. Golden Week is an extremely popular time to travel. Flights, trains, and hotels are often fully booked despite 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.
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