Navigating Golden Week: Insider Tips for a Memorable Holiday in Japan

by Nana Young

Golden Week Explained: Japan's Premier Holiday Season

Golden Week 2024 Banner, week long holiday

Golden Week, also known as Ōgon Shūkan, is a series of four Japanese national holidays in seven days. It’s arguably Japan's busiest holiday season and the longest vacation spell for workers in the country. If you happen to be around during Golden Week, you’ll probably notice the switch to a celebratory atmosphere as companies temporarily shut down operations. The only other national holidays with busy atmospheres that rival that of Golden Week are New Year and Obon Week, both of which last for three days.

The four Golden Week holidays are:

  1. Shōwa Day or Shōwa no Hi (April 29): This is a public holiday in honor of the birthday of late Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito).

  2. Constitution Memorial Day or Kenpō Kinenbi (May 3): The day is set aside to celebrate the establishment of Japan’s post-World War II constitution on the same day in 1947.

  3. Greenery Day or Midori no Hi (May 4): It is a national holiday in honor of Emperor Shōwa’s love for nature and plants. 

  4. Children's Day or Kodomo no Hi (May 5): Also known as Boy’s Day, it’s a national holiday that involves the celebration of all children.

History of Golden Week in Japan

crowd of people for Golden Week at entrance of Ebisu Bashi-Suji Shopping Street, one of many major attractions

Golden Week became a valid term in 1951 when Japanese businesses in the leisure and film industries noticed spikes in sales during those seven days. Back then, Golden Week only had three holidays because Greenery Day and Showa Day didn’t exist. Instead, the Emperor’s birthday was celebrated on April 29.

In 1988, May 4 was designated as a “national day of rest,” unattached to any grand event or person. When the Emperor passed away the next year, April 29 was renamed Greenery Day to honor his interest in plant life. In 2007, the Japanese government moved Greenery Day to May 4, replacing the allocated national resting day. Also, Shōwa Day became the new name for the Emperor’s birthday celebration on April 29.

How People Spend Japan’s Golden Week

hectic time in Haneda Airport International Terminal in Golden Week (public holidays, plan ahead to avoid disappointment)

Golden Week is a popular time for travel, and many workers take some time off to go on vacations with friends and family. There are also countless street festivals and sporting events in various cities. Golden Week reflects Japan’s views on the importance of hard work and the need to take time off to rest and enjoy time with loved ones and nature.

The rest of this post dives deeper into the facts about Golden Week. We’ll also be providing you with the best tips on how to navigate this holiday season.

When is Golden Week in Japan 2024?

The 2024 Golden Week in Japan begins on Monday, April 29, 2024, and ends on Sunday, May 5, 2024. That means that most workers will enjoy a 9-day break or holiday weekend. They leave work on the day before the preceding weekend (Friday, April 26) and return the day after Golden Week ends (Monday, May 6). This makes the 2024 holidays even more exciting, including the next Silver Week (a September holiday weekend), which will offer multiple holiday weekends as the holidays fall on September 14–16 and 21–23.

In contrast, Golden Week in 2025 is from Tuesday, April 29, 2025, to Monday, May 5, 2025. The only weekend during that period is already part of Golden Week, so most workers will only have a 7-day break.

It’s also worth noting that the 2024 Golden Week falls in the middle of springtime in Japan, a period characterized by cool temperatures, sunny days, and dry weather in most cities.

Navigating Golden Week: Travel Tips for 2025

Shinkansen or JR Bullet train running pass through Mt. Fuji and Shibazakura golden week 2024

Traveling to Japan during one of the busiest holiday seasons in the country can seem a little daunting. However, worry not, because all you need to do is remember a few simple tips and you should have no problems. If you’re a first-time visitor planning to experience Golden Week in Japan, here are some essential travel tips for you:

  1. Prepare your mind to expect large crowds at airports, tourist attractions, restaurants, and train stations.

  2. Book hotels, train tickets, and tour reservations ahead of schedule. They get full pretty quickly during this period.

  3. Plan and organize the majority of your itinerary before you travel. You should have a clear idea of the activities and events you want to enjoy.

  4. Learn all you can about Japanese culture and traditions for Golden Week.

  5. Don’t include visits to the most popular attractions in regions like Kyoto and Osaka in your itinerary unless you don’t mind the crowds.

  6. Save transportation costs and time by getting the 5-day Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass). It allows you to travel all around Japan via bullet trains (shinkansen), express trains, regular JR trains, and buses.

Is Golden Week a Good Time to Visit Japan?

Kaminarimon Gate at Sensoji crowded, essential for first time visitors

Golden Week is the longest holiday season in Japan. Tourists can join the locals to experience the different festivals and events during that period. Hence, it’s a great time to visit Japan. Weather conditions are favorable and tourists hardly run out of things to do. Golden Week falls in spring, which is when Japan has some of its best scenery thanks to beautiful cherry blossoms and vibrant red leaves.

Your friends in Japan will have time to show you around because they’ll be on holiday with the rest of the country. The only drawback of traveling to Japan at that time is the potential difficulties resulting from extremely crowded attractions and fully booked accommodations. Kyoto is especially notorious for this due to the abundance of local and foreign tourist attractions in the city. However, it remains one of the best places to visit during Golden Week and you can avoid the crowds if you know where to go.

Top Destinations: Where to Go During Golden Week 2025

When visiting Japan during Golden Week, popular landmarks, parks, and museums don’t make the best destinations. The large crowds at these places could turn your experience into a nightmare. Luckily, there are a number of hidden gems in major cities that you can enjoy. These places have all of the fun and excitement without any of the stress you might face at overcrowded attractions. Here’s our curated list of the best places to visit in Japan during Golden Week:

Ashikaga Flower Park (Ashikaga): This is one of Japan’s best wisteria flower viewing spots. The wisteria flowers are famous for their beautiful pink colors and delightful scent. There’s a specific tree at the park that’s over a century old. The park also showcases other flowers.

Beautiful Fuji flowers at Ashikaga Park, Tochigi Prefecture


Hitachi Seaside Park (Hitachinaka): Located in Ibaraki Prefecture, Hitachi Seaside Park is a great place to view green spaces and seasonal flowers, including the iconic blue nemophila. Other attractions at this location are the amusement park, Miharashi Hill, cycling trail, and walking trail.

Kokia (summer cypress) at Hitachi Seaside Park

Mount Kurama (Kyoto): Away from the bustling attractions in the city lies Mount Kurama, one of the serene landscapes of Kyoto. There’s a village by the mountainside consisting of the Kurama-dera Buddhist temple, Yuki Jinja Shrine, and Kurama Onsen.

Kurama Temple (Kurama-dera) in Kyoto, Japan

Senkoji Temple (Onomichi): Next to the summit of Mount Senkoji, you’ll find the Senkoji Temple, one of Onomichi’s greatest landmarks. Other nearby and less popular attractions in the area are Senkoji Park and the Onomichi City Museum of Art.

The Senkoji Temple, Onomichi town,Hiroshima, Japan

Shibuya Crossing (Tokyo): Shibuya Crossing embodies the bustling streets of Tokyo. It’s an intersection near Shibuya Station that serves as a meeting ground for Halloween and New Year events. Many already recognize Shibuya Crossing as the world’s busiest pedestrian intersection, so you can imagine the kind of spectacle waiting for you in Golden Week.

Shibuya Crossing is one of the world's most used pedestrian crossings, in central Tokyo, Japan

    Experiencing Golden Week in Tokyo: A Citywide Celebration

    Tourists watched the Meiji shrine spring grand festival at the busiest time in Golden Week

    Tokyo can be a fun place to spend Golden Week in Japan. We found that people tend to overestimate the number of crowds in the city. Many of the residents travel to other parts of Japan, which could reduce the pressure on Tokyo attractions. However, there is no guarantee you won’t struggle to get transportation and accommodation.

    If you’re in Tokyo from late April to early May, you can enjoy a number of cultural parades and other events, including the Kameido Tenjin Wisteria Festival, Meiji Shrine Spring Grand Festival, Kurayami Festival, Cambodia Festival, and Ōme Grand Festival. There are also special museum exhibitions you can attend. To avoid crowds, visit these places very early in the morning.

    Kyoto During Golden Week: Temples, Gardens, and Crowds

    Gate of Chorakuji temple, one good outdoor activities

    Kyoto Golden Week is rife with busy streets and crowded tourist attractions. The city is popular among tourists because of its natural scenery and traditional architecture. Famous temples make up the majority of holiday hotspots. There’s the Chorakuji, Otagi Nenbutsu, Tofuku-ji, and Adashino Nenbutsu temples, three of the most famous landmarks in the city. You and other tourists can explore their cultural grounds and lush gardens.

    Kyoto is also home to a series of Golden Week festivities, including the geiko and maiko performances, horseback archery at Shimogamo Shrine, the Kemari Festival, and the Heijokyo Tempyo Sai Festival.

    More Golden Week Getaways: Escaping the Urban Rush

    Tottori Sand Dunes

    How about some alternative destinations and getaways for those looking to escape the urban rush during Golden Week? We’ve curated a secondary list of lesser-known locales and natural retreats.

    1. Tottori: This is home to over 11 square miles of sand dunes and a surreal Sand Museum. You can go kayaking and surfing in Lake Biwa or explore Shirahige Shrine Torii Gate.
    2. Shirakawa-go: A village recognized as part of the UNESCO World Heritage, Shirakawa-go is the perfect natural getaway.
    3. Nikko: You can choose to stay at Nikko Kanaya Hotel, the oldest resort hotel in the world. However, there are several others. Popular attractions include temples, waterfalls, and lakes.
    4. Yakushima: This is another all-natural destination for Golden Week. Explore waterfalls, hot springs, beaches, and green landscapes.
    5. Kurashiki: Take a trip along the canal system and enjoy the scenic views, cafes, restaurants, and shopping streets.

      Golden Week for Foodies: Culinary Delights to Explore

      People eating and drinking in a Yatai in Hakata Bay

      One of the best parts of attending these festivals is the food on display in restaurants, izakaya (traditional Japanese drinking spots), noodle bars, and yatai (Japanese street food stalls). You can enjoy popular street food options, such as takoyaki, okonomiyaki, taiyaki, and yakisoba. Restaurants in the country also serve traditional delicacies, including ramen, sushi, and tempura.

      Outdoor Adventures: Enjoying Japan’s Natural Beauty in Golden Week

      Lantern in Sakura Festival at Mishima Shrine, Shizuoka, Japan.

      Don’t forget to embark on simple outdoor adventures during your stay, alone or with friends. Golden Week may coincide with the cherry blossom season. Hence, it’s a good time for hanami (cherry blossom viewing). Visit any of the nearby parks with blossoming cherry flowers or sakura. You can enjoy picnics with others while you bask in the surrounding beauty and take photos. Hiking, cycling, kayaking, and yachting are other popular outdoor adventures you should try!

      Shopping and Sales: Golden Week Deals

      Crowds pass below colorful signs in Akihabara.

      Golden Week provides a superb business opportunity for retailers in Japan, as a lot of people are away from work and looking to do some holiday shopping. You’ll find many department store sales and special promotions during this period. The best places to enjoy Golden Week deals are at stores in Harajuku, Shibuya, Akihabara, Shinjuku, and Ueno. Online stores like Bokksu Boutique also offer mouth-watering deals during this period and help you avoid the crowd at physical stores.


      If you can't travel to Japan, at least take part in the festivities with a Bokksu Snack Box Subscription. We’ll send you authentic seasonal snacks straight from Japan every month. There are lots of deals and extra special treats available for you to celebrate Golden Week!

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