"Golden Week," which runs from late April through early May, is one of the major holiday seasons of Japan, along with oshogatsu (the New Year celebration) and obon in the middle of August. Four national holidays (April 29th and May 3rd, 4th, and 5th), combined with weekends, allow for a rare long vacation in a nation in which paid holidays are hard to come by unless one is injured or ill. For those engaged in recreational businesses, Golden Week presents a crucial opportunity. While May 4th was not a national holiday until rather recently, legislation in 1985 added this extra day off, with a view to boosting demand for the tourism industry and leisure-oriented companies.
Often a period marked by sunny, comfortable days, Golden Week sees tourists and sightseers flock to areas of natural beauty, such as mountains and lakes, as well as festivals and events across Japan. At the same time, downtown business areas, usually full of hustle and bustle, suddenly turn into quiet landscapes. This time of year allows one to experience Japan’s urban areas in a new light.