May 9, 2017
I most easily describe Golden Week in Japan as Spring Break for adults, in that much of the country had the week off including school children, teachers, and several kinds of professional. Having a week to enjoy yourself, especially before rainy season steals away six weeks or more of your time and sticks you inside on the weekend, can be excellent. That is of course, unless crowds make you nervous.
If you're like me, the idea of slowly maneuvering through crowds to get anywhere or do anything fills you less with excitement than irritation. The dark side of Golden Week is that most of those people who now have the day off will be out and about, wandering into spaces and holding up lines. If you're living close to a major city, expect some traffic increase as people come in from the countryside for time in an urban environment. This can make some things run a little less smoothly than they might otherwise. This can be really frustrating for anyone, but especially challenging for the socially anxious, like me. Here are a few alternative options for the more introverted among us.
1) Catch up on your shows. Did you know that Neil Gaiman's Novel American Gods has been made into a TV show that you can stream on Amazon (provided you have an Amazon Prime membership)? Netflix and Hulu also have options for the savvy media hound, so go find some great things to watch or re-watch.
Don't forget Star Wars Day strikes right in the middle of Golden Week (May the Fourth be with you) and you can rent a few of these either at DVD rental places or via streaming on Amazon. We chose to spend one day watching the Marvel movies we had yet to see, two of which were only 100 yen to rent on Amazon!
The Amazon rental service is really useful. From the time of purchase, you have 30 days to begin your viewing. From the second you push play, you have 48 hours to complete your viewing-- and you can watch your chosen media as many times as you want to in those next 48 hours. We re-watched Ant Man and Captain America:Civil War with some friends before our 48 hours were up.
2) Head to the Park
It seems that most parks, so full of people for sakura viewing last month, have since been pretty vacated. Take advantage of this and go find a little spot for a picnic or a game of catch. At Tsutsujugaoka Koen in Sendai, we spent the day running around with a soccer ball and having a lovely little bento picnic. Of course there were some people there, but not in the droves that were seen a few weeks previous. Some sakura was still blooming and a few food stalls were still open, so if you're looking for a little city-side excursion, there is peace in the park.
3) Study (with poop!)
A little extra time to yourself is a great time to better yourself, and what better way than this.
The newest in kanji studying for elementary school students and ambitious yet puerile foreigners is poop, as explained in this Nippon.com post. The sentences are generally pretty simple and if you find these in the book store, you can peruse them briefly in order to find the level most appropriate for your current kanji learning needs. I chose second grade, as I can recognize half of the kanji but pronounce closer to 25%, so it will be a silly way to review what I know and learn more. Each book in the series of six (one for each level of elementary school) will run you a little less an 1000 yen and you can find them at most major book stores (check the kids section) as well as Amazon.
However you spent your Golden Week, I hope you had a good one.
A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.
What a coincidence. I once said a word for poop/unchi when a friend's baby had pooped or a fart, then everyone around me uses this word a lot. My son decided to use it on parents open day when the teacher introduced letter u. Now you mentioned this poop here, too.
@Ooray2775 Yeah, it is weird how poop/unchi winds up being so memorable. Hopefully it helps kids (and me) learn/remember some kanji.
"I most easily describe Golden Week in Japan as Spring Break for adults". Great description! I think Golden Week must be just about the worst time of year for travel in Japan. It's shame though, as it's probably the best weather. In Tokyo, you can often find good deals at the fancy hotels during holidays like Golden Week.
@Tomuu That is cool, but I bet you have to make reservations really early. There are some cool sales and other opportunities, but they are also usually so crowded.
I think Golden Week (and similar holiday periods) is a great time to explore your local area. Somehow it feels really relaxed and kind of looks different when you see it without the usual patterns of work/family life and routines. Maybe that sounds a bit daft, and it probably depends on where you live, but if you live in a place like where I do, everyone is clearing off to somewhere else during this time and it makes more a much more mellow vibe. I quite like it.
@DaveJpn That is an excellent way to see it. I've only lived in towns so small that without the normal foot traffic, they feel like ghost towns.