Know Before You Go: Visiting Japan During Golden Week
A cluster of Japanese public holidays—Greenery Day, Showa Day, Constitution Memorial Day, and Children's Day—all take place during the last few days of April and first few days of May. This quick succession of days off prompts many businesses to close and residents to take the entire week off for vacation, giving the period the name Golden Week. For anyone thinking of visiting Japan during this festive (and busy) period, here's what you need to know.
Make reservations in advance
Everything books up faster than normal during Golden Week.
With so many people on the move, you may find that transportation (particularly long-distance shinkansen trains) may be fully booked far in advance. Make all your reservations as soon as possible—Golden Week is not the best time for spontaneous travel.
Watch your budget
Higher prices are found across the board.
As with anywhere else in the world, peak travel season means higher prices. Again, making reservations early can absorb some of the damage, but you should expect that many hotels and flights may simply be more expensive during Golden Week.
Book skip-the-line tickets
And beat the crowds.
Japan has a population of 126 million people, and it can feel like almost all of them are on the move during Golden Week, taking advantage of a rare stretch of holiday time. If you're planning to visit Japan's biggest tourist attractions—such as the temples of Kyoto and famed cherry blossom (hanami) spots—expect to find many other travelers doing the same. As such, skip-the-line tickets are your best bet for making the most of your time.
Remember that Golden Week travel has its advantages
Some Tokyo attractions may be quieter than normal.
Despite the potential for crowds and added expense, there are a few advantages to visiting Japan during Golden Week. Because many residents flee the cities (and even the country), it can be a great time to explore Tokyo's attractions without the crowds. Think: a more serene than usual experience at Senso-ji and shorter lines for Tokyo Skytree, for example.