Today is right in the middle of Golden Week, a string of four unrelated holidays all occurring within seven days during the end of April/beginning of May. Many shops and all offices are closed, and lots of people take time off to travel, both domestic (I expect Kyoto to become quite crowded) and internationally (people fly as far as the US West coast or Europe). This means that during this single week, many hotels and airlines demand higher prices than usual, so I am planning to stay in town – there is enough to see and do…
This year, as one of the holidays falls on a Sunday, May 6th is also a holiday (because there can be no national holiday on a Sunday in Japan – I like that idea!) Anyway, the four holidays mentioned are the following:
- Showa-no-hi (Showa Day) on April 29th. It celebrates the birthday of the previous emperor, who died in 1989.
- Kenpo kinenbi (Constitution Day) on May 3rd marks the anniversary of the 3rd May in 1947 when the new Japanese post-war constitution was put into effect.
- Midori-no-hi (Greenery Day) on May 4th is dedicated to nature and the environment. It also goes back to the Showa emperor who was especially fond of plants.
- Kodomo-no-hi (Children’s Day) on May 5th is a traditional festival, and although it is called Children’s Day, this day mainly centres around boys.
Looking at this list more closely, it seems the holidays are not so unrelated after all – three of them are somehow connected to the Showa emperor (whose status in the state changed drastically with the new constitution). Actually, after the death of the Showa emperor, Greenery Day was observed on April 29th (instead of his birthday Tenno Tanjobi), before it was moved between the two May holidays and Showa Day was officially (re-) installed.