What should I pay attention to when traveling in Japan during the Golden Week?

The Golden Week is THE national holiday week in Japan, each year between the end of April and the beginning of May. During these days, Japanese people travel in mass by train to enjoy their holidays as tourists.

The next Golden Weeks will take place:

  • In 2020, from Wednesday April 29 to Tuesday May 5;
  • In 2021, from Thursday April 29 to Wednesday May 5;
  • In 2022, From Friday April 29 to Thursday May 5.

The Golden Week is the longest national holiday for Japanese people. They thus overcrowd trains at two specific moments:

  • At the beginning of the holiday, when escaping Tokyo for their hometown;
  • And at the end of the holiday, when returning to Tokyo.

Thus, if you travel outside those peak periods during the Golden Week, trains might be more crowded than usual, but you might not have any problem finding a seat.

It is more or less the same process during the New Year celebration period: usually from December 29 to January 3.

Don’t forget that:

  • A lot of Shinkansen run, especially on the Tokaido Line and its branch lines (Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka-Hiroshima), the most important for foreign tourists. If you don’t feel boarding a train that seems full, you can wait for the next train departing a couple of minutes later, or at worst a few dozen minutes.
  • It is not possible to book a seat outside Japan with only the exchange voucher. You can only book a seat when in Japan, after exchanging your Voucher for the JR Pass. If you were to travel during the Golden Week, we strongly recommend to book your seats at the same time you proceed to activate your JR Pass.

It is impossible to book seats by yourself if you are not in Japan. Moreover, Keikaku does not book train seats.

To avoid any inconvenience if you travel in Japan during the Golden Week, you can choose the JR Pass “Green Car” (First Class) which is always quieter and less crowded.

Order your JR Pass