I’m procrastinating on writing projects and studying Japanese because it’s Golden Week! Some readers may ask, “what is this Golden Week you speak of”? It is the fortuitous alignment of a bunch of public holidays in the first week of May, and people often take extra time off to make it a full week or more. The holidays are:
- April 29: Shōwa Day (昭和の日), which is for the Shōwa period’s emperor (Hirohito). The date was picked because it used to be a different imperial holiday
- May 3: Constitution Memorial Day (憲法記念日)
- May 4: Greenery Day (みどりの日) (previously swapped around with the imperial day; it’s just a holiday to fall between the other two)
- May 5: Children’s Day (こどもの日)
If any of these fall on a Sunday, the 30th or 6th is a public holiday instead.
Most offices and government agencies are closed on all of the holidays, and definitely industrial/manufacturing companies are closed during the whole time period. Retailers, on the other hand, are open and raking in the money. As you can imagine, many people travel overseas or within Japan and so trains out of Tokyo are extremely jam-packed. As for me, I’m happy to have Y at home for a few days and we’re catching up on householdy paperworky stuff. Might also catch a city parade at some point.
Of the holidays, Children’s Day is definitely the best. It was previously known as Boys’ Day, and it’s traditional to put out koinobori flags (carp) for each member of a family. Also, samurai helmets are displayed, and of course one must eat kashiwa-mochi (sweet red beans in sticky rice cakes, wrapped with kashiwa (oak) leaves). (You’re not supposed to eat the leaf!)
There’s a nice video and recipe on the Just One Cookbook site.
NB: you can buy your favourite samurai helmet on Amazon.