Japan is entering Golden Week, a semi-accidental clustering of holidays that received its unique name from movie theatre operators trying to promote the holiday week as a good time to go see a movie. The holidays are Showa Day on April 29, the birthday of the old Emperor; Constitution Day on May 3, commemorating Japan’s postwar constitution; Green Day on May 4, a day to celebrate nature; and Children’s Day on May 5, when parents will proudly fly those streaming carp kites. Most of the time Golden Week is nearly useless as a holiday, since the other 127,560,999 people in Japan also have the week off, so taking a trip up the pleasant town of Karuizawa in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture means sitting in your car for 10 hours because everyone in Tokyo decided to go there too. This year, however, people are supposedly exercising jishuku or “self-restraint” after the sad events of six weeks ago, and many people are staying home instead of planning a special family trip. I plan to do the opposite, taking my family on a trip and treating them to a great steak dinner somewhere, since Japan needs economic strength in order to recover.
Early May is when you see all those beautiful carp streamers.