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Golden Week – Shōwa Day

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/25 Traditional Culture , , ,

Tomorrow in Japan is Shōwa Day. It is the start of the so-called Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク, Gōruden Wīku). Often abbreviated as GW, Golden Week is a term applied to a series of public holidays between April and May.

Golden Week

The current holidays celebrated during this period are:

April 29 – Shōwa Day (昭和の日, Shōwa no Hi)

May 3 – Constitution Memorial Day (憲法記念日, Kenpō Kinenbi)

May 4 – Greenery Day (みどりの日, Midori no Hi)

May 5 – Children’s Day (こどもの日, Kodomo no Hi)

When a public holiday lands on a Sunday, the next day that is not already a holiday becomes a holiday for that year. In some cases, a Compensation Holiday (振替休日 Furikae Kyūjitsu) is held on either April 30 or May 6 should any of the Golden Week holidays fall on Sunday; 2012, 2013, and 2014, have had Compensation Holidays for Shōwa Day, Children’s Day, and Greenery Day, respectively, and 2015 will have Constitution Memorial Day fall on Sunday, requiring another consecutive year with a Compensation Holiday. Thus, May 6 of this year will also be a holiday.

Shōwa Day

Tomorrow is the Shōwa Day. It is is a Japanese annual holiday held on April 29. It honors the birthday of the Shōwa Emperor (Hirohito), the reigning emperor from 1926 to 1989. The purpose of the holiday is to encourage public reflection on the turbulent 63 years of Hirohito’s reign and a day for remembering the Showa Era, when the Japanese people worked hard to rebuild the country, and for wishing for a bright future.

The holiday was not known as Shōwa Day until 2007. Before 1985, it is known as The Emperor’s Birthday (天皇誕生日 Tennō tanjōbi), the national holiday to celebrate the reigning emperor’s birth date, as Emperor Hirohito was born on April 29, 1901. When he died on January 7, 1989, April 29 was subsequently no longer celebrated as The Emperor’s Birthday but instead as Greenery Day because of the late Emperor’s love of nature.

After many attempts since 2000, Greenery Day finally won approval to be renamed Shōwa Day in May 2005, and the decision to move the date of Greenery Day from April 29 to May 4 was taken.

vacation

(Image from AC-Illust)

Coincidentally, Shōwa day happens in the same date that in 1946 the AlliesInternational Military Tribunal for the Far East condemned key officials of the Imperial Hirohito government during World War II to death, including former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo.

The holiday, as it was officially made holiday, is the time to reflect on the Shōwa Era, where Japan is the verge of subsequent recovery. For some though, as it is the start of the Golden Week, it’s also when most Japanese start their vacation.

References:

1. Golden Week. Wikipedia.

2. Shōwa Day. Wikipedia.

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