How the 10-Day Golden Week Holiday Will Affect Your Daily Life in Japan

Japan will have a a historic 10-day Golden Week holiday (from April 27th to May 6th) to celebrate the abdication of the current emperor and the accession of his successor.

Emperor Akihito of Japan is set to abdicate on April 30, 2019, which will make him the first Japanese Emperor to do so in over two centuries. This marks the end of the Heisei period and  the accession of his successor, Crown Prince Naruhito.

The extended holiday will have a widespread impact on people’s daily lives. Here are some things to expect during the long Golden Week.

Travel and Tourist Spots

Travel agents nationwide are reporting that they have never seen the volume of overseas and domestic bookings that have already taken place for the extended Golden Week (GW). If you haven’t already booked your GW travel, you may find slim pickings or peak-pricing pickings are all that remain. It is indeed a historic Golden Week and a historically long one, which people all over Japan want to take advantage of.

As is the case with the end-of-the-year and new year holidays, you can expect commuter trains to business districts to be relatively empty. However, airports, roads, and public transportation to tourist destinations are expected to be packed, especially during the first and last few days of Golden Week, as people are headed out and then back home again.

Many people have decided to opt out altogether from the domestic Golden Week crowds and will be overseas, but passenger air travel volume at Narita, Haneda, and Kansai are expected to balloon at the beginning and end of the holiday.

Shops, supermarkets and convenience stores

Not all companies have decided yet on their holiday schedule. Depending on the industry and company you work for, of course, you may have the entire period off or only some days off.

Local neighborhood shops and restaurants are expected to close for the entire period, while major supermarket chains will be closed on some days and will operate on shortened or full hours on other days.

Convenience stores, the workhorses of Japan, will be open 24-7 as usual.

Businesses will announce their holiday hours well in advance and will also post them online and in shop windows, so you’ll be able to plan ahead.

Public Schools

Public schools will have the entire 10-day period off. The government is considering adding school days onto the end of the school year to make sure that students meet the required number of instruction days.

Outpatient and emergency medical services

Based on a survey conducted by the Japan Medical Association, as of December 2018, about 30 percent of local medical associations responded that they were unclear or undecided as to how they plan to advise their member medical professionals to deal with patient needs during the extended holiday.

Prefectural governments have asked hospitals, medical facilities and emergency medical services to let people know ahead of time the extent to which they will be able to access medical care during the 10-day holiday period. Local governments also plan to set up consultative meetings with local institutions to urge them to set up a system for how they plan to respond to patients’ needs for accessing outpatient and emergency medical care.

Garbage collection

The government has asked local governments to make a decision on how they plan to handle garbage collection during the Golden Week holiday, possibly based on the schedule that is usually used for shorter consecutive holidays. Local governments will also ask local businesses that handle the disposal of large household appliances to not suspend operations for longer than three days.

Tokyo 23 Wards

Some of Tokyo’s 23 Wards have already decided their garbage collection and processing schedule. Suginami, Setagaya, and Taito Wards will be collecting garbage and running garbage processing facilities as usual. For other Wards and other municipalities, please contact your city or ward office directly to check on the schedule.

Childcare and Nursery Care

The government plans to offer subsidies to nursery schools to enable them to deal with the expected increase in demand for nursery care services from parents who will be working during the extended holiday. Nursery schools which offer temporary “drop-off” services are expected to see a surge in demand.

Banks and Financial Services

The Japan Post bank and other banks will be operating on holiday schedule during the 10-day holiday, but you will be able to access ATMs based on the usual holiday hours and fees. Please check directly with your financial institution to confirm operating hours and available services.

Financial reporting by listed companies

The extended Golden Week falls around the period when listed Japanese companies usually report their annual financial results. This is because many Japanese companies end their fiscal year on March 31st.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has a rule that companies must announce their results within 45-days of the last day of the financial period. During the upcoming long holiday, the government has said that any company that does not announce its results within 50-days of the close of the fiscal year will be asked to publicly disclose the reason for delay.

Still, there is some concern that most companies will concentrate the announcement of their fiscal year results on the weekdays immediately prior to and following the long holiday.

Possible market volatility

Japan’s stock markets will be closed for the entire 10-day Golden Week. Trades will not be executed throughout the holiday, and it is expected that there will be some market volatility in the trading days immediately before and after the holiday. Securities companies will be informing their institutional and individual investors of this. Securities companies will also be setting up systems to ensure that they can respond adequately to a surge in trading leading into and following the long holiday. This may mean, for example, making sure that there are additional staff on hand to handle concentrated demand for executing trades.

Disaster preparedness and utilities

The national government has also called on local governments to review their disaster preparedness plans in relation to emergency services and any additional personnel that may be required for the long holiday. Local governments are also being urged to make sure that electricity, gas, and water supply are maintained at stable levels.

Package delivery services

Expect some delays in package delivery during the long holiday, although it is not clear yet the exact schedule that the various carriers (such as Yamato and Sagawa) will be operating on.

Lead photo: Golden Week, Osaka Station central gate, May 4, 2007. Photo by Chris Gladis via Flickr