For many who live outside of Japan there is little to no knowledge of the holidays that Japan celebrates. While Japan does participate in Western holidays like Christmas and Halloween, they are not national holidays that are celebrated, just observed with passing amusement because Japanese rarely get time off for these Western holidays. So what are some of the holidays that Japan does celebrate? Holidays like, “Showa No Hi” “Ryojinn no Hi”, etc. are among Japanese holidays, but one of the longest holidays in Japan and a holiday almost everyone and every business in Japan is closed for at lease one day, is Golden week.
Golden week was originally a celebration for the birthday of Emperor Showa. At the time of his birth there were 3 other holidays celebrated within a few days of each other so in order to make life easier the government conglomerated them all into a week-long celebration, and eventually separated the emperors birthday holiday, “Showa no Hi”, to a different day. “Showa no Hi” is a day to remember the emperor, reflect on the past and think about the future.
The modern “Golden week” consists of the National Constitutional day on May 3rd and Children’s Day on May 5th, and because it would be inconvenient to have two holidays so close the government of Japan made May 4th a rest day. As time went on the holiday spread to include May Day, too making Golden Week, a week long holiday at its longest and a 3 day vacation at its shortest. During this time many companies take time off and this is a good time of the year in Japan with pleasant weather so many families go to beaches or camping. This is also an important time for many farmers because this is the period when families can come together and help plant crops. Rice is planted at this time all throughout Japan and many spring crops are planted, too.
In the end, Golden Week, like many other holidays around the world started as something else. From the celebration of a dead emperor all the way to a Hallmark holiday and excuse to drink beer and plant crops. No matter where you go a holiday is a holiday and people will celebrate in a multitude of ways.