If you are new to Japan, let me tell you about Golden Week. It is a glorious time when nobody works and everybody travels....and I do quite mean EVERYBODY! If you know what is good for you...Don't leave the house!
I am giving you fair warning to let you know that Shibuya and Shinjuku will be twice as crowded...It is normally pretty crowded, but it's usually efficient at least.
People book their vacations MONTHS in advance...sometimes even half a year. If you are planning to do an impromptu trip, it is going to cost you a lot of money. Even the cheap places mark up their prices. You can expect to spend at least 10,000 yen to travel and eat for a few days during golden week.
Notes: Travel activity is anticipated to peak on May 2 with people leaving the large urban centers and on May 6 in the opposite direction. Heavy traffic can also be expected on April 29 and May 3 and 5.
A Bit 'o' History
In 1948, Japan decided on holidays. They just so happened to all be concentrated into one week, end of April to early May. There is a huge spike in spending during this week and everybody makes money! In 1951, "Jiyū Gakkō" had record sales and the director of Daiei Films to coined the phrase"Golden Week" based on the Japanese radio lingo “golden time,” which denotes the period with the highest listener ratings.
So...if you think there is some awesome ancient history about golden week....sorry to disappoint. It's kinda like how department stores in New York invented Santa and Coca Cola made him red. It's still awesome though^_^.
At the time, April 29 was a national holiday celebrating the birth of the Shōwa Emperor. Upon his death in 1989, the day was renamed "Greenery Day". In 2007, Greenery Day was moved to May 4, and April 29 was renamed Shōwa Day to commemorate the late Emperor.
Thought this was funny... so I tried to google image some pictures for this blog post. This is the first image that comes up..it is a Japanese ad for getting a wax...I guess everyone was clicking on it..haha.