Golden Week

What is ゴールデンウィーク Golden Week?

Golden Week

What Is ゴールデンウィーク "Golden Week" In Japan?

Have you heard of the term ゴールデンウィーク (Golden Week) in the news? Or have you ever wondered what it means or why it's called "Golden Week"?

Golden Week is a long holiday from the end of April to the beginning of May in Japan. The week includes four national holidays:

April 29 — 昭和の日 (しょうわのひ) Showa Day, the birthday of former Emperor Showa

May 3 — 憲法記念日 (けんぽうきねんび) Constitution Day

May 4 — みどりの日 Greenery Day, dedicated to the environment and nature

May 5 — こどもの日 Children's Day, a day to celebrate and pray for children's good health, individuality, and happiness

Most people take the days in between off. So when the holidays happen to fall during the week starting from Monday, Golden Week becomes a ten-day holiday, like this year. (2019)

Although, the long "golden" holiday is not why it's called "Golden Week."

So Why Is It Called Golden Week?

It was an executive at Daiei Film (a major Japanese film studio) who came up with the Japanese-English 和製英語 (wasei eigo) in the mid-'50s.

A film released around the time of now-known-as Golden Week turned out to be a hit. So he named the week "Golden Week" as a prime week for movie releases to get more people to the theaters. The name was inspired by ゴールデンタイム "Golden Time" (which is another wasei eigo) — a term for "prime time" in radio and television broadcasting.

Like the Japanese Valentine's Day custom (where women give chocolates to men), this is another example of a marketing tactic that has settled into the culture.

Nowadays, the term ゴールデンウィーク has settled, and most people know what it stands for. Though, because it is originally a marketing term, and to avoid using too much カタカナ and borrowed words (外来語 gairaigo), in national broadcasting, they still use the term 大型連休 (おおがたれんきゅう, long holiday).

To Plan Well In Advance, Or To Stay Put

For many, Golden Week is a guilt-free week of vacation (many companies still frown upon their employees for taking long vacations). But the downside is the 渋滞 (じゅうたい, traffic jams) and 混雑 (こんざつ, congestion).  It's crowded EVERYWHERE because half of the nation is on holiday! Plus airfares and hotels are crazy expensive.

Planning for Golden Week activities needs to begin much in advance. Figuring out how to avoid the crowds and navigating the long holiday asks for a lot of preparation, patience, and creativity. It can be more stressful than not having a vacation... For this, many also deliberately opt to stay put and figure out other ways to enjoy the week off.


coffee milk

Sento Guide: コーヒー牛乳 (coffee milk)

coffee milk

【 コーヒー牛乳 (k​ōh​īgyūnyū) 】coffee milk

銭湯 (sento) public bathhouses became popular around 昭和30年 (Showa 30's) 1955.

Refrigerators were also becoming popular around the same time, but like bathtubs, they were not yet common in average households. Refrigerators, TVs, and washing machines were still a luxury.

Therefore, going to the sento for a hot bath and buying a cold drink afterward, was quite a treat.

So what is the association between a 銭湯 and コーヒー牛乳 ?


さくらの日 (sakura no hi) Cherry Blossom Day


【 さくらの日 (sakura no hi) 】Day of Cherry Blossom

March 27th is「さくらの日」the Day of Cherry Blossom.

This day, the peak of cherry blossom season was established with a 語呂合わせ (goroawase) a play on words with 3 (さ) x 9 (く) = 27 to celebrate and deepen our appreciation for the flower.

Do you know why 桜 (さくら) is such a significant flower in Japan?

The etymology of さくら is:

」means "god of rice fields"


くら」is a place where the gods reside,

hence from the old times, it was believed that the cherry blossom tree is where the god of rice fields reside.

Originally, 花見 (hanami), to have a banquet under the cherry blossom tree, was a religious festival to pray for good harvest.

It wasn't until the Edo period that it became a recreational event for the common. (The Tokugawa government promoted it as a way of distracting common folk during troubled, rough times).

Cherry blossoms bloom and fall in a short period. How they come and go, their elegance and transience are often associated with the samurai spirit.

Speaking of cherry blossoms and hanami, check out our Hanami Picnic video series — learn some useful everyday phrases along with "cherry blossom" vocabulary!

Here is the latest, Part 2. (If you missed Part 1, hop over here.)

Happy Spring, Happy Hanami-ing!

Resource: 3月27日は「さくらの日」って知ってた?日本人の心情に深く結ぶ、魅了する「桜」



Japanese Phrases to Use at an Izakaya – Part 1

Learn Japanese Izakaya Phrases

Eating and experiencing the local scene, like a local, is the best part of traveling or living in a foreign country. Izakayas in Japan are like English pubs — you get a drink after work, satisfy your hunger, de-stress, laugh away, and reset for another day.

In this video series, we introduce common phrases that we use at an izakaya in a conversation format where two colleagues decide to grab a drink after work. These short and simple phrases will surely make you sound more natural than textbook phrases!

To give you a better understanding, we've also included some tips on where the phrases come from and when to use them.

We hope you find the video useful. Practice away and boost your Japanese conversation skills!

Stay tuned for Part 2 as the two colleagues place their order.

If you haven't subscribed to our YouTube channel yet, click away and stay updated.

nail clipper

Old Japanese Saying About Clipping Your Nails At Night

nail clipper

【 爪切り・tsumekiri 】nail clipper

The オノマトペ onomatopoeia for the sound of clipping nails is

パチンパチン (pachin pachin)
パチパチ (pachi pachi).

These オノマトペ didn't exist pre-nail-clipper days because up until the Edo era, farmers used a ノミ(nomi) chisel, and samurai used their 短刀(たんとう, tantō) dagger to trim their nails. (With a knife, it would be more like peeling an apple.)

Then came the 爪切(つめき)り専用(せんよう)ハサミ nail scissors in the 明治 Meiji Era, followed by ニッパー式(しき)爪切りnail nippers in the 大正 Taisho Era.

It was only after WWII in the 昭和 Showa Era that the modern-type クリッパー式爪切り nail clippers popularized.

There's an old saying in Japanese,


(yoruni tsumewo kiruto oyano shinimeni aenai)

The literal translation is,

"You shouldn't clip your nails at night, or you won't be able to be with your parents when they pass away."

In other words, you will pass away before your parents if you do.

Imagine how back in the day people had to trim their nails with a knife in the dark, especially at night (long before electricity) — knife slip, slice, bleed — oh, the horror. No wonder they came up with such a superstition.

We should be grateful for the invention of the nail clipper. パチンパチン

Some terminology concerning all things nails:

・巻(ま)き爪(づめ) (makizume) = ingrown nail

・さかむけ (sakamuke) or ささくれ (sasakure) = hangnail

・爪やすり (tsumeyasuri) = nail file

・甘皮(あまかわ, amakawa) = cuticle

・掻(か)く (kaku) = to scratch

・引(ひ)っ掻(か)く (hikkaku) =  to claw or snag with your nail