Preparing Wisely for Golden Week Holidays

Golden Week is one of the busiest times of the year in Japan, especially in the Kansai area. Most people in the Kansai area travel outside the region back to their hometowns or abroad. Those who choose to go somewhere nearby often go camping or to an onsen, sometimes both.

The roads during Golden Week are more crowded than anyother time of the year. Someone once told me it took 12 hours to drive from Osaka to Okayama because of the traffic that jams up at the bottleneck just outside Osaka between Takarazuka and Sanda. The normal driving time is two and a half hours from Minoh City.

A better way to travel, if you have no other alternative vacation plans in the area, is to travel at night when most people choose to sleep. Traffic is usually a lot less and many traffic lights are activated to flashing yellow lights. A friend and I traveled at night from Kyoto to Wakayama in record time this way going backroads. We drove it in just under 3 hours.

Hopefully, some good advice is to travel a few days before or after Golden Week. That way you can beat the traffic and the higher costs that come with the holiday period.

For those of you who don’t have a good idea of what to do, here are a few suggestions of things you probably shouldn’t do.


  • …visit Universal Studios Japan - It doesn’t matter how many people leave the Kansai area because many people outside the Kansai area will probably come to the Kansai area to USJ.
  • …drive through Takarazuka or Sanda area on the Chugoku Expressway during rush hour traffic, on the first day or last day of a long weekend or holiday. Traffic is at its worst then.
  • …go out to popular family restauarants during Golden Week because too many people in Japan go there with the family and relatives during this time. Visit a restaurant that is not family style or is ethnic food. You have a better chance of finding parking and a seat.
  • …expect a large majority of shops and/or banks to be open. Most close down during Golden Week, or at least they usually do. Things are changing all the time in Japan, so it wouldn’t be surprising if more shops begin to stay open during the holidays. Most are closed on Mondays though, even without the holidays.
  • …buy an airplane ticket, abroad or domestic. It’s the secondmost expensive time of the year to travel other than summer during Obon. Most airfare is double if not triple the average cost.

Hopefully these few tips will help you make wise decisions for your Golden Week. Choose something outside these Don’ts and you may do well with the little time Golden Week vacation truly offers since it isn’t really a full week of vacation time.

About the Author

Kyle Yates

Kyle Yates is an American English teacher living and working in the Kansai area since 1996.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.