Q: What’s the story behind Golden Week?
A: Golden Week, often referred to as GW, is the week at the end of April and the beginning of May on which four near-consecutive holidays fall (Showa Day on April 29, Constitutional Memorial Day on May 3, Green Day on May 4, and Children’s Day, or Boy’s Day, on May 5). When a holiday falls on a Sunday, as is the case with Showa Day this year, the following Monday is designated as a Substitute Holiday. With few such extended vacations during the work year, and in most cases Golden Week being the longest, some in Japan take off the 1st and 2nd of May and take this time to travel. When traveling over Golden Week, it is important to book well in advance, as hotels, trains, planes, and buses fill up and sell out quickly.
This period of holidays, established in 1948, was apparently first dubbed Golden Week in 1951 by a director at Daiei Films, which had reported record high ticket sales at theaters during that week. Not only theaters, but other entertainment and leisure industries also experienced increased popularity during this new string of holidays. People began taking advantage of the consecutive holidays by taking small day-trips and outings, but soon were taking longer, bigger trips to farther places, and today many spend the week traveling overseas.
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