For many people, we are approaching one of the longest holiday periods of the year – Golden Week. Many companies give from April 29 to May 8 as a holiday, and people tend to make the most of this and plan travels all over Japan or abroad.
For those of us staying in Tokyo (or nearby) however, here are some good ideas for things to do over Golden Week.
Take a day trip to Gunma for the Tatebayashi Koinobori Carp Streamer Festival
Every year homes and schools hang carp fish streamers outside to celebrate Boy’s Day on May 5. The carp symbolise healthy growth and strength for the children of the family or institution.
During Golden Week, Tatebayashi City in Gunma holds a village-wide festival with over 4,000 koinobori (carp) streamers on display. They hang in five different spots along the river
At the same time, the azalea flowers will be blooming, so be sure to visit Tsutsujigaoka Park for their azalea display, as they grow over 10,000 flowering bushes in 50 different varieties. They even have a flower tunnel!
More information: https://www.visit-gunma.jp/en/spots/tatebayashi-koinobori-carp-streamer-village-festival/
Go wisteria viewing
Golden Week is the time of year when wisteria flowers bloom at their park. The delicate violet petals and subtle yet sweet smells make for a very pleasant stroll. There are many places nearby to see wisteria, here are some of our recommendations: https://omakase-tour.com/blog/spring/where-to-see-wisteria-flowers-near-tokyo.html
Another popular spot that we didn’t list is the Kameido Tenjin Shrine Wisteria Festival which is walking distance from Kameido Station in Tokyo. The shrine’s wisteria have been around since the Edo Period and are a popular viewing spot, meaning it will be crowded, but pretty nonetheless. Check our blog above for some more “hidden” recommendations.
Take a daytrip to Chichibu in Saitama for the Shibazakura Festival
Chichibu is a great destination for Golden Week. The forest hiking trails will be full of fresh green growth while not yet being too hot. Besides hiking, there are river activities like boat tours, canyoning or rafting. In the Chichibu region is the Hitsujiyama Park, which holds a festival every Golden Week dedicated to the 400,000 plus shibazakura flowers which grow there. Shibazakura means grass cherry blossoms, or moss phlox, and this park takes it to a new level with enormous fields resplendent in pink.
More information: https://www.chichibu-omotenashi.com/en/sights.html
Explore Off-the-Beaten-Path Tokyo
By now you’ve almost surely explored places like Harajuku, Shibuya and Shinjuku extensively, but how about the other side of Tokyo? Known as “shitamachi”, or the historically working-class neighbourhoods that retain a much more traditional feel than Roppongi or Azabujuban.
Traditionally domiciled by merchants and labourers, some examples of Shitamachi areas are Yanaka, Nezu, Jujo, Asakusa, Koto and Katsushika. Yanaka and Nezu area is filled with dozens of small shrines as well as the famous Yanaka Cemetery, and the area was largely undestroyed during the war, so many original buildings and shrines remain.
Nezu in particular is good to visit in Golden Week due to the Azalea Festival at Nezu Shrine, very popular with locals and tourists alike.
Koto City is in East Tokyo and is filled with waterways that make for a pleasant stroll. Here is our recommended route: https://omakase-tour.com/blog/close-to-tokyo/a-stroll-around-the-waterways-of-old-tokyo.html
In Katsushika City which is to the North-East of Koto City, we recommend the Horikiri Iris Garden, or the old fashioned Shibamata shopping street along with the Shibamata Taishakuten.
Take three unique day trips with the Tokyo Wide Pass
For just 10,180 yen (half price for kids 6+), you can buy a pass which allows unlimited (almost) in the Kanto area. This is a great deal and often pays off in one day as even shinkansens are covered (not the Tokaido Shinkansen).
Where can you go?
Here are some examples of ways to use this pass:
- Izu – The Izu Peninsula is lovely in Golden Week. Use the pass to go there and see Atami, Shirahama, Jogasaki Kaigan and everything else the area has to offer.
- Lake Kawaguchiko and the Mt. Fuji area
- Kusatsu Onsen
- Hitachi Seaside Park
- Nasu Kogen
- Cycling in Ibaraki
I used it once on Golden Week and did:
Day 1: Izu
Day 2: Kusatsu Onsen (be prepared for traffic on the short bus trip from the train station)
Day 3: Kawaguchiko
Please note that this pass is only for foreign residents, not Japanese.
More information: https://www.jreast.co.jp/multi/en/pass/tokyowidepass.html
Ziplining and Forest Adventure
Feel like a bit of fun during Golden Week? Looking for an adrenalin rush? Try ziplining at Forest Adventure. There are several venues near Tokyo, like in Chiba or Mt. Fuji.
Treetop courses originated in France as a form of team building for corporate training, but it proved so popular that it became a recreational activity. Forest Adventure is built around the forest, using natural materials with the aim to protect the surrounding environment.
Here is a list of nearby ziplining parks: https://foret-aventure.jp/eng/park-information/#kanto
We hope you enjoy these ideas and have a good Golden Week! If you’re looking for travel ideas in Japan, check out our sister company Omakase Tour for some ideas: https://omakase-tour.com/tours/
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