How did the ‘Golden Week’ holiday get its namesake in Japan?
Celebrations have started in Japan for Golden Week, but how did the set of national holidays originally get its name domestically?
Anime and manga fans around the world look forward to new content each and every weekend.
However, many of our favourite series will be notably absent this week, both domestically in Japan and internationally through distribution partners because of Golden Week.
Consequently, many manga fans around the world are now learning about Golden Week for the first time, so how did the national celebrations get their namesake?
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What is Golden Week in Japan?
Golden Week is a specific period of the year where multiple Japanese national holidays occur, leading to a week-long celebration across the country from April 29th to May 6th.
The week kicks off on April 29th with Showa Day, an annual holiday honouring the birthday of Emperor Showa (Hirohito) who passed away in 1989.
Then, the nation celebrates Constitution Memorial Day, which celebrates when the postwar constitution came into effect and Greenery Day, which is similar to Arbour Day in the US where people celebrate the environment and nature.
Golden Week ends with Children’s Day, where families pray for the health, well-being and future success of young people across the nation.
As part of Golden Week, many businesses close and employees take to tourist attractions, making it one of the busiest times of the year commercially. Sadly, for manga fans around the world, Golden Week is usually marked with publishers also temporarily shutting down including the next issue of the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine.
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How did Golden Week get its name?
Golden Week as a concept first began in Japan back in July 1948, but it was actually called Golden Week until the early 1950s.
As with any national holiday, the leisure industry saw significant increases in turnout and profits over the week, especially the film industry.
Specifically, the 1951 movie Jiyu Gakko saw a record number of ticket sales over the week, even outshining the periods around New Year and Obon – typically the best times for the movie industry at the time.
This led the managing director of the Daiei Film Corporation to dub the period ‘Golden Week’ because of the increase in ticket sales, merchandise and general income.
This was actually based on the term ‘Golden Time’ from the world of radio, which was a period when stations experienced significant increases in the number of listeners.
Over the next several decades, the term Golden Week became more and more popularised in Japan, even as the holiday-specific dates were moved around following Emperor Showa’s death in 1989.
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By Tom Llewellyn – [email protected]