Image: stock.adobe.com By Wipark
One of Japan’s most cherished celebrations, Golden Week, occurs April 29 – May 5, 2021. This is a special time when the entire country celebrates cultural traditions by observing four historical holidays. Companies close their doors and employees enjoy a week of paid vacation. Global business takes a pause to celebrate each of the four festivals of important significance to the people of Japan.
Golden Week received its name when in 1951 ticket sales for the film Jiyū Gakkō rose more than they had at any other time of the year. The film director then nicknamed these holidays “Golden Week” to further advertise it as the ’golden’ time to go to the movies. In honor of this festive week, enjoy reading about the history and traditions of the four official holidays of Japan’s Golden Week.
1. Showa Day- April 29: Showa Day or Showa no Hi commemorates and honors Emperor Showa who served as emperor in the periods before and after World War II. On this day citizens are encouraged to reflect on Japan’s struggle during Emperor Showa’s rule and remember those lost in World War II. Showa Daye is considered a contemplative day, dedicated to reflection and acknowledging Japanese history. Citizens tend to remain home, and shops and public offices show respect by staying closed on this day.
2. Constitution Day- May 3: Constitution Day starts the lively side of Golden Week as it celebrates the signing of the Japanese Constitution on May 3, 1947. A year after the signing, Japan’s government declared that the anniversary would serve as a national holiday. To celebrate, citizens attend lectures on the constitution and learn about the overall impact it has made on Japanese society.
3. Greenery Day- May 4: Greenery Day, also known as Midori no Hi, was once celebrated on April 29, but in 2007 was moved to May 4 as a day devoted to the environment and nature. The holiday, known by some as merely an extension of Golden Week, is also a tribute to the Emperor Showa, who was known for his love of nature. On this day the people of Japan are encouraged to take time to enjoy the outdoors while reflecting and appreciating the beauty of Mother Nature.
4. Children’s Day- May 5: Arguably the most photographic day of this celebratory time, Children’s Day ends Golden week with candy, carp kites, and lots of family fun as the people celebrate the youthful happiness of the children of Japan. Although the holiday was originally exclusively for boys, more modern celebrations include girls. The holiday’s most recognizable symbol, the carp fish, represents a Chinese legend in which carp swim upstream and transform into dragons, a symbol of the journey for a child’s journey of maturity and growth into adulthood.
This lively season in Japanese culture is a time of reflection, family, and springtime fun. Whether you’re celebrating Children’s Day in Osaka or observing Midori no Hi in your backyard, be sure to enjoy this special time of the year and wish everyone a happy Golden Week!
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She is a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.
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