I’m a day late and a yen short, but wanted to let you know about Golden Week in Japan, which is wrapping up, oh, about now. I offer my gomenasai (apologies) but you can still plan for next year, plus I’ve thrown in a Dutch treat below.
Golden Week incorporates a few late-spring holidays into one “golden week” of vacation time for the hard-working Japanese; it’s roughly from April 29 – May 5 each year.
When we lived near Fukuoka, in Kyushu, Golden Week was a madhouse, but a great opportunity to shop for the beautiful pottery and ceramics that the region is famous for (Arita ware and Imari) and then relax in a Kyushu hot spring.
If you want to see a bit of the Netherlands in Japan, there’s the rather bizarre but interesting Huis Ten Bosch European theme park near Sasebo, always popular for Golden Week and springtime. It commemorates the influence of the Dutch on commerce in Japan (they were the only Europeans allowed to trade with the Japanese between 1639 and 1859.)
I’ve visited the park; in fact, many of the wives of Navy personnel stationed at the nearby US Navy base are hired as performers and workers at Huis Ten Bosch since they look European. I remember one of my friends was hired to do some sort of elaborate Dutch dance routine, in full costume, and I think she was from North Carolina. She laughed that at least she didn’t have to speak Dutch, just look Dutch.
You can still look forward to some great holidays in May and June – there’s Kanda Matsuri (Festival) with thousands of people and portable shrines taking to the streets in Tokyo, the more intimate Asakusa Sanja Matsuri shrine event in the old Tokyo section of Asakusa and the Otaue Rice Planting Festival in Osaka.