Golden Week 2024: dates and travel tips

Children's day celebration

Golden Week is a series of 4 national holidays that take place within 7 days. It typically falls at the end of April and the beginning of May each year.

Golden Week is one of the longest holiday periods on the Japanese calendar — many locals get time off work to enjoy the bank holidays.

It’s also a great time to visit Japan. Tourists can experience traditional festivals and even join in with the celebrations. Sounds like fun? Check the dates for Golden Week in 2024 below and start planning your trip!

When is Golden Week 2024?

Golden Week 2024 starts on April 29 and ends on May 5. Here are the key dates, events, and recommendations for what to do.

Key date Festivity Events Recommendations
April 29 Showa Day (Showa no hi) Observe cherry blossoms in bloom (Hanami) See cherry blossoms in Tokyo, Hokkaido, Kyoto, or Osaka
April 29 Atami Odori geisha dance festival Take a bullet train from Tokyo to Atami with your JR Pass
May 3 Constitution Day (Kenpo kinenbi) Spring festival (Haru No Fujiwara Matsuri) Travel from Tokyo to JR Hiraizumi by bullet train
May 4 Greenery Day (Midori no hi) Marugame Castle Festival Travel to Kawaga, to the northeast of Shikoku Islands, to visit the castle
May 4 Take a walk through nature in Osaka There are dozens or forests and parks in and around the cities, choose your favorite!
May 5 Children’s Day (Kodomo no hi) Carp streamer festival (Koinobori) You can see the colorful carp streamers in any city

Golden Week Festivals and Meanings

Here’s a little more information about the meanings behind each of the festivals shown in the table above.

Showa Day, or Showa no hi, on April 29 is the birthday of the late Emperor Showa, or Hirohito, who ruled Japan during World War II.

On May 3, Constitution Day, Kenpo kinenbi, is celebrated in honor of the ratification of the Japanese constitution in 1947.

Midori no hi, or Green Day, is celebrated on May 4. It honors the environment, as Emperor Showa was a lover of nature, flowers, and plants. At one time, Greenery Day was celebrated on April 29 but was moved to its current date due to a law that requires a day falling between national holidays to be declared a holiday as well.

On May 5, Kodomo no hi, or Children’s Day (also called Tango no Sekku, or the Boy’s Festival), is a festival in celebration of young men. Towns and families often hang carp streamers outdoors to represent the presence of young men within and to wish them strength and success in life.

Children's day celebration under Tokyo Tower
On Children’s day, families raise carp-shaped flags as a good-luck symbol

Golden Week offers some unique travel opportunities but can draw crowds. If you plan on traveling to Japan during this special week of activity, make sure you consider our travel tips.

Golden Week travel tips

Transportation and attractions can be difficult to access during Golden Week due to the sheer number of people traveling at that time. Consider the following tips to make sure your Golden Week vacation goes to plan.

1. Make all reservations early. Many travelers make their Golden Week plans 3 to 6 months in advance. This includes reserved train seating, airline tickets, hotels, and tours.

You can activate your Japan Rail Pass up to 30 days in advance of when you plan to use it. With an activated pass, you can make seat reservations early. When using non-reserved seating, large groups may find it difficult to get seating together on the trains.

2. Allow extra time for travel. During Golden Week, more people than usual are traveling around. Be prepared for lines or delays when using your Japan Rail Pass — allow extra time to get from A to B.

JR ticket office
Make sure to reserve your train seat at least two days in advance to avoid problems

3. Stay connected. Make sure you stay connected to the internet to navigate, check train times, and make reservations. How about renting a Pocket WiFi for the week?

4. Have a Flexible Itinerary. Be prepared to change your plans. If a site is too crowded, having a backup plan can save the day!

Things to do during Golden Week

With your JR Pass, you can travel around and get the most out of Golden Week. Here are our top recommendations for things to do during Golden Week 2024.

Hanami – Observe the cherry blossoms

Japan’s iconic cherry blossoms are in bloom around the time of the Golden Week. We recommend going to Tokyo, Hokkaido, Kyoto, or Osaka to enjoy the stunning floral shows. All 3 destinations are easily accessible with your JR Pass.

Atami Odori Geisha dance festival

This annual dance festival takes place in Atami in the Shizuoka prefecture on April 28 and 29. See dance performances by Geishas of Atami. You’ll need a ticket to enjoy the performances. Remember, you can take a Shinkansen from Tokyo to Atami with your Japan Rail Pass!

Haru No Fujiwara Matsuri – Spring festival

This spring festival is celebrated in the city of Hiraizumi, in the Iwate prefecture of Japan. Haru no Fujiwara Matsuri is a blend of history, culture, and tradition, providing a window into Japan’s past. Activities include processions in traditional dress.

Marugame Castle Festival

This festival celebrates the historical and cultural significance of Marugame Castle. The castle is a symbol of the city and an important cultural asset. Main attractions include parades in traditional dress and music, dance, and drama performances.

Enjoy nature in Osaka

To mark Greenery Day, locals often plant trees as a way to bring them closer to nature. If you’re in Japan for Greenery Day, why not take a walk through any of the beautiful forests in and around Osaka and other cities?

Travel from Tokyo to JR Hiraizumi by bullet train in around 2 hours 30 minutes.

Koinobori – Carp streamer festival

The Koinobori Festival in Japan is a colorful celebration to honor Children’s Day. “Koinobori” means “carp streamers” in Japanese, and the festival is marked by the flying of these streamers across the country. Wherever you are in Japan, you’re sure to notice the flying carps!

What is the weather like during Golden Week in Japan?

The weather during Golden Week, which spans from late April to early May, is generally mild and pleasant. Weather-wise, it’s one of the best times to visit Japan. However, conditions can vary by region so check the forecast for the places you plan to visit.

Generally, you’ll be able to spend lots of time outdoors, enjoying the cherry blossoms and exploring the beautiful gardens of Japan.

Flower garden in Hokkaido, a great area to visit during Golden Week
Flower garden in Hokkaido, a wonderful area to visit during Golden Week

Japanese Silver Week

Every five years, approximately, the national holidays of Respect for the Aged Day, Autumn Equinox and a weekend make for a long vacation period similar to Golden Week.

This holiday, around late September, is widely known as “Silver Week”. The next Silver Week will happen in 2026 with a four-day long holiday period.

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