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.

Related Tours & Activities

21 thoughts on “Golden Week 2024: dates and travel tips”
  1. I am in Tokyo right now and it is extremely crowded and expensive. Thanks for the article, it really helped me out!

  2. We are planning to visit Hiroshima and Miyajima on May 2nd from Kyoto. We are waiting for bullet train tickets. Would the holiday cause any problems? Any suggestions? We don’t have any other day.

    1. Hi Sho! Transportation and attractions can be difficult to access during Golden Week due to the sheer number of people traveling at that time, and hence we strongly recommend you to book your seats as soon as you reach Japan to avoid fully-booked situations. Happy travels!

  3. Hi, we are arriving in Osaka KIX late night on 2 May and want to leave to go to Hiroshima on Monday 6 May. We can only activate our JR pass on 3 May – will we be able to get seats reserved for the Shinkansen to Hiroshima on 6 May or will it be full? How many trains go from Osaka to Hiroshima on Monday 6 May? Please give us advice, thank you!

    1. Hi Annie! It is not possible to know upfront if a train will be full or not. Our best advice would be reserve your seats as soon as it is possible for you. Should you need concrete information on trains, timetables and itineraries please check Hyperdia – the number 1 Japanese online transportation planning tool. Happy travels!

  4. Hi, i will visit japan on 1-8 May 2019. I have bought JR pass to travel in Japan. Can i make a JR Shinkansen seat reservation to Osaka online ?

    1. Hi Stephanie! Seat reservations can only be made when the Japan Rail Pass is activated. However, seat reservations are available online for certain trains at the JR East Train Reservation Service (Ekinet). Eligible trains include the Hokuriku Shinkansen (Tokyo-Kanazawa), Shinkansen and major limited express trains in the JR East area north of Tokyo, and Shinkansen, limited express and rapid airport trains in the JR Hokkaido area (some exceptions may apply). Happy travels!

  5. Farm Tomita in Hokkaido is a great place to visit during Golden Week? That’s terrible advice! The flowers aren’t in full bloom until July!

    1. Hi User! The picture aims to make part of our advice ‘enjoy outdoors’, which is not related to the blooming flowers in this case but to the comfortable outdoor temperatures.

  6. Hi, I’m Johny. I’m planning to visit Japan on 1 – 9May 2018. I already bought ordinary JR Pass. Can I make reservation start now? Thanks

    1. Hi Johnny!

      To reserve seats you need to have already exchanged your voucher into the actual Japan Rail Pass.

      Once this is done, you can go to any JR Ticket Office (Midori-no-madoguchi), spread through all Japanese train stations. Alternatively, seat reservations are available online for certain trains at the JR East Train Reservation Service (Ekinet). Eligible trains include the Hokuriku Shinkansen (Tokyo-Kanazawa), Shinkansen and major limited express trains in the JR East area north of Tokyo, and Shinkansen, limited express and rapid airport trains in the JR Hokkaido area (some exceptions may apply).

      Happy travels!

    2. Since my JR Pass is ordinary ticket, can I change to Green Pass when I arrive in Japan? Thanks

    3. Hi Johny! Unfortunately not. JR Group will only exchange your voucher for the ticket you purchased. We recommend you to contact the company you purchased your pass from to see how can this be solved.

    1. Hi Dindy! Most of the museums are open during the Golden Week, however we recommend you to verify before visiting them in their own website.

  7. I will fly to marital on april28 and take the Shinkansen that morning. I would like to travel from Tokyo to Kanazawa on April 28, 2018. I planned to buy a non-reserved seat. I don’t mind about standing, but I want to arrive at the destination on time. Can I get on the train I want even it’s crowded, Or I have to line up for the next train. If I miss the train, can I I wait for another train by using the same ticket? I am worried that I cannot go to Kanazawa by Shinkansen on the date I want, because I have reserves all the hotels.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Pleum!

      Tokyo and Kanazawa are directly connected through the Hokuriku Shinkansen. There are different train categories serving this itinerary:

      – Kagayaki: one of the few train categories that require making a seat reservation before boarding. There are no non-reserved seating areas on this train. In case all seats have been booked, standing tickets will be made available.
      – Asama: you are not required to make a seat reservation, before boarding the train. The Asama train offers reserved and non-reserved seating areas.
      – Hakutaka: there are both reserved and non-reserved seating areas on the Hakutaka train. You are not required to make a seat reservation before boarding.

      All of them, of course, included in your Japan Rail Pass 😉

      Enjoy your trip!

  8. Hi,

    We will be in Tokyo – May 2nd to 7th, right smack into the whole of Golden Week. We want to do a day trip to Nikko (will be driving there instead of taking the train).

    Initially the plan was to go on May 5th (Saturday) but I’ve read that traffic on weekends are really bad, so I am thinking of doing May 3rd (Thursday). Is it doable?

    Also, any chance you can help advise on the approximate cost of the road tolls for a Tokyo-Nikko round trip? Thank you!

  9. Hi,

    Me and my spouse will be travelling to Tokyo 28 Apr – 5 May 2018. Arriving at Haneda Airport 9.30PM. Planning to get Suica card upon arrival and monorail to check-in at Ronponggi. Will that be crowded as well? What is your best advise? Thanks

  10. Hi, i am travelling to Japan on 1st of May 2018. Since i realized that i will arrive in the middle of Golden week i am wondering about what to do with transports. I have planned to travel a lot around the country and i have booked every hotel for 12 nights. First on 1st May i want to travel to Kanazawa, the on 3rd to Kyoto, on 6th to Hiroshima, 8th to Hakone (odawara) and 9th to Tokyo (on 13th i will travel back). Also i will travel to Miyajima, Nara, Kamakura and Nikko so i think a jrpass for 14 days would be worth it.

    I have seen that they advice to book trains 2-4 days in advance when is Golden week, but for my first trip to Kanazawa is impossible to do that. So i have though to buy a Green car pass because i would have more probabilities to get tickets in the same day. Notwithstanding there are less green cars than ordinaries, I have read that japanesse people that usually travel in first class prefer to use Nozomi trains, because they are quickier than JR trains (but to kanazawa there arent a lot of Nozomi). In other hand, i think it will be less passengers in the middle of Golden week (1st May) that in the start of it or in the holiday days (29,3,4,5).

    I am very afraid not to take tikets in the first day to Kanazawa, so i would appreciate any advice related with this. Thank you.

    1. Hi Nacho!

      Our best advice is already written in the article. You don’t need to panick, you will still be able to travel, you will just need to be more patient and allow extra time for travel to accomodate any delay. You will be able to live these amazing outdoor festivals and national celebrations – just enjoy 😉

      Buying the Green Pass is ideal for the busy months in Japan since it guarantees a spacious and comfortable seat in the air conditioned cars of JR lines.

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