Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
Japan, which already has a “Golden Week” holiday period in spring, is currently in the midst of a new five-day holiday run, dubbed “Silver Week”, including its “Respect for the Aged” and autumnal equinox holidays.
September, formerly a month with single national holidays in different weeks, now has them linked, largely thanks to a “Happy Monday” law passed in 2000 that rolls over any national holidays on a Sunday and makes holidays of any days in between such breaks.
Indeed, despite its image as a Spartan, never-take-vacation society, the relaxing truth is Japan has at least 15 national holidays and potentially more depending on the day of the week the holiday falls. While none of these are in the month when many Japanese actually do take vacation — August – it works out for even the hardest working salary-man or -woman to at least three weeks to more than a month off a year.
This may not make European unions envious yet, but compared to the United States with 10 public holidays and a few following days off, it’s a substantial commitment by the state to leisure, and arguably a lucrative pump-priming for the domestic and international travel industry until this year.
Bring a lot of patience if you travel by car for Japan’s summer holidays: The highway discounts are great for your budget but the traffic jams can be a real headache.
Japanese highways are notoriously clogged during obon – when people return to their hometowns to visit relatives and worship their ancestors – and even more so this year as motorists take advantage of toll discounts introduced in March and offered only on weekends and holidays.