Hello! My name is Nikki Marshall. I am a third-year student at the University of Texas at Austin. My major is sociology. Currently, I am studying abroad in Tokyo, Japan! Nice to meet you.
Today is April 29, a day that marks the end of my first month in Tokyo, but also indicates the start of Golden Week here in Japan. This is a week of consecutive national holidays which allows for time off of work and creates one of the busiest travel periods in Japan.
Golden Week consists of four national holidays:
• April 29: Showa Day
• May 3: Constitution Day
• May 4: Greenery Day
• May 5: Children’s Day
Golden Week 2019:
This year Golden Week is special because the current emperor of Japan, Emperor Akihito, is set to abdicate on April 30 while his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will succeed as emperor on May 1. The abdication of Emperor Akihito will be the first abdication of a Japanese emperor in over 200 years and will mark the end of the Heisei era and the beginning of the Reiwa era. This historical event added four holidays to this year’s Golden Week. In accordance with Japan’s Public Holiday Law if a national holiday falls on a Sunday, then the following business day will be given as a holiday, referred to a transfer holiday. Also, any day that falls between two national holidays automatically becomes a holiday, referred to as a citizens’ holiday.
The following dates of added national holidays created the special 2019 Golden Week, which will consist of 10 consecutive days of holiday in Japan.
• April 30: Emperor Akihito abdication
• May 1: Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the throne
• May 2: Citizen’s Holiday
• May 6: Transfer Holiday
Golden Week Plans:
When I arrived in Japan I had never heard of Golden Week, so I was shocked to learn that not only would I receive time off from school shortly after beginning classes, but that I was lucky enough to experience a particularly long and special Golden Week. At first, I was disappointed to learn about the holidays so late because I wasn’t able to make any travel plans in time. However, I found out from many friends how difficult it is to travel in Japan during this time. With an entire country on holiday, you can imagine how hectic things can become. Transportation such as trains and buses are crowded, and hotels are often booked out far in advance. My travel plans to Osaka and Kyoto will have to wait until after the holidays, but no reason for disappointment because I will still be able to take advantage of my free time. I plan on enjoying a “staycation” here in Tokyo and fill my time with exploring new areas I have not seen yet.
April 29: Shōwa Day
I started the first official holiday of Golden Week with a trip to Setagaya, a special ward in Tokyo, Japan. I went with other international students and Japanese students who I have met here at my exchange university, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. My university has a “buddy” program in which they partnered every foreign exchange student with a Japanese student. This program is to help international and Japanese students meet and become friends. Today some international students along with our buddies went out to explore Setagaya and get to know each other better.
Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory
If you are a fan of Studio Ghibli then this pastry shop is a must visit. The business is run by Hayao Miyazaki’s sister in law and the shop is decorated with many of the lovable characters from Miyazaki’s films. The shop sells Totoro cream puffs on the first floor along with small souvenirs while the upstairs is a café. The filling of the cream puffs comes in a variety of flavors which vary by season, but today I opted to try the custard filling. It was so delicious that I wanted to buy a second one, but I will definitely be back to try the other flavors.
An area filled with vintage shops, thrift stores, and coffee cafes. We spent the day wandering the area admiring the artistic atmosphere. Making our way in and out of thrift stores I was able to see many different styles of clothing and bought a few items I definitely would have never found back home.
Today was the perfect beginning to Golden Week. I spent time shopping and eating in an artsy town which resembled no other area I had seen in Tokyo before. I ended the day saying good-bye to friends in Shinjuku, an area filled with the bright lights and crowds that everyone envisions when they think of Tokyo. I absolutely love the diversity of the city I’m living in. Here in Japan, I’m having interactions and experiences with people from all over the world. I’m witnessing cultures blend in front of me and I’m still in such awe that I am here and get to appreciate the beauty of it all. I look forward to seeing what the rest of this Golden Week has in store for me, and ultimately the challenges and opportunities Japan will bring me.
See you later
This post was contributed by Nikki Marshall, a 2019 Global Ambassador.
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