The Golden Week is a special time for the Japanese and the tourists who are longing for an adventure. A lot of people set aside their heavy duties for a while, starting from the 29th of April up to the 6th of May. There is a reason why the Golden Week starts on the 29th of April—it is a national holiday that celebrates the birthday of the Emperor Showa, who passed away in 1989.
During this week, tourists and locals flock to popular spots to unwind and have fun. Because of that, Tokyo may be very crowded during this time. So if you decide to fly to Japan for the Golden Week, you may want to go somewhere else other than Tokyo. Here are some travel choices that may be perfect for your Golden Week escapade.
Places to visit in the Golden Week
A humble city with a lot of attractions - this is no other than Tottori. Tottori is the capital city of Tottori Prefecture in the Chugoku Region of Japan. Tourists always make it a point to see the breathtaking sand dunes there. If you are into arts, you may also visit The Sand Museum of Tottori. There are also shrines and castle ruins around the city, such as the Hakuto Shrine and the Tottori Castle ruins.
Now known as a modernized city in Japan’s Honshu Island, Hiroshima speaks of a tragic history. It was drastically destroyed by an atomic bomb during World War II. When you visit Hiroshima, it is definitely a must to see the Itsukushima Shrine, which is best known for its floating torii gate. If you’re also interested in learning more about the atomic bombing during World War II, visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Another attraction to see is the Hiroshima Castle, which looks very majestic and has stood throughout the test of time.
Are you bringing the kids with you? Or do you just want to bring out the child deep inside you? Osaka is the perfect place for children and child-at-heart individuals because of Universal Studios. Meet the Minions of Despicable Me, wave your wands with Harry Potter, and scream with joy at the Jurassic Park. If you’re into shopping and enjoying city life, try visiting the Osaka Dotonbori or Shinsaibashi. You might be able to buy interesting, unique-to-Japan finds in the stores and boutiques around the city.
Do you want to take a plunge in a hot spring? If yes, then Beppu is the best place to be. Go and visit the Beppu Onsen to completely relax. Beppu also has an amusement park, which is called the Kijima Kogen Amusement Park. If you want to see beautiful and natural scenery, try stopping by the Kinrin Lake and reflect upon your life goals and choices.
Japan is known for its different forms of art. In Kanazawa, you will look at the world in diverse perspectives through the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. If you’re also into the cultural aspect of Japan, especially with regard to ninjas, visit the Myoryuji Ninja Temple. The Kanazawa Castle is also present, and it looks very peaceful with all the plants and flowers around it.
Do you ever wonder where the delicious seafood served in every dining table in Japan come from? At Aomori, you may visit the Furukawa Fish Market. You will be in awe with how well-maintained the market is, as well as the wide variety of fishes and seafood available.
Aomori is also famous for the Sannai Maruyama archaeological site because it is the largest and the most well-preserved Jomon Period site in Japan. It has over seven hundred structures, which were once houses, storage buildings, roads, and trash and burial pits of the people during Japan’s Jomon Period. Get a firsthand experience of the Jomon people by visiting the Jomon Jiyukan, which is adjacent to the excavation site. From there, you will find the tools used during the era. You can even try on Jomon wardrobe and taste Jomon food at their restaurant.
If you don’t want to distance yourself from Tokyo but want to avoid the crowds altogether, neighboring towns like Saitama offer peace and quiet for both travelers and locals. Wide spans of mountain terrains and picturesque landscapes await every visitor. You can choose to hop from town to town to enjoy it even more.
Chichibu and Hamanakaya are popular choices. Hamanakaya is home to the world-famous Mt. Nokogiri Nihon Temple where the 31-foot high statue of the Great Buddha is carved. Chichibu, on the other hand, offers low-key relaxation through long train ride routes that let you explore Japan and view it in a way not often offered in highly-commercialized tours.
A city located north of Tokyo. Tourists can reach it after a 90-minute train ride. With the bustling crowds flocking towards the capital city, it doesn’t make much sense to go against the current. But this city has something to offer that makes the trip worthwhile. Ashikaga celebrates its own Wisteria Festival as part of their own Golden Week celebration. You’ll be greeted by rows and rows of Wisteria trees in full bloom. It’s truly reminiscent of places in a fairytale. Aside from cherry blossoms, Wisterias are must-sees.
What to remember
There’s no need to flee miles away from Tokyo if all you need is a lesser crowd. Outside the city, there are other villages and towns that move to a different pace you’d wonder if you’re still in the same country. The two main challenges are knowing where to go and how to get there safely. You don’t want to get stuck with incoming visitors. Tip: Book the train tickets in advance and leave as early as possible.
There’s no harm in experiencing what Tokyo’s Golden week can offer first-hand. Planning your trip right will not only allow you to cover more areas but will help you avoid any hassle. For the first half of the week, Tokyo-based activities are really enjoyable. For remaining days, it’s better if you leave before the week’s official closing, that’s when the crowds rush in.
When traveling around Japan, for sure you’ll need energy wherever you go. Japanese food is savory and sumptuous. What makes the whole trip more memorable is trying out the local dishes each place has to offer. The Japanese take pride in their own taste and tradition which easily permeates from every dish made and served.
If you can’t find the time to choose a restaurant between walking around the tourist spots and taking photos, you might want to bring along a few Japanese sweets to munch on - handmade hard candies, chocolates, wafer bars, biscuits, chips, cookies, dagashi, umaibo, matcha, gummies, gum, and even flavored drinks. Don’t just get these treats for yourself; buy some as perfect gifts for loved ones and friends who couldn’t experience the Golden Week with you.
We hope we helped you decide where to go this Golden Week. Whichever city or region you may go or you planned to go to in the future, have a splendid time in Japan!
Freelance Writer| Part-time Contributor in Japan Crate | Dog-loving human being who writes about life and travel tips, specifically anything Japan-related, loves books, and non-functional without caffeine.