Golden Week: The Origin of its Name

Spring is upon us in Japan, and that means “Golden Week” — a glorious week of holidays one after another – has visited us on the edge between April and May.

I used those days off to perfect my V-kei karaoke skills and count the ridges on my fingerprints. Last time I checked, I had thirty-one on my left index finger, but it’s difficult to keep track of which ridge you’ve already counted, so this may be incorrect.

Oh, I also went camping. Look at all the nature!

Golden Week camping

My Golden Week camping adventure

Golden Week does have a purely Japanese name, Oogatarenkyuu, but the Japanese name is really only used by NHK, the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation. Why, then, is the English-made-into-Japanese phrase “Golden Week” used?

By employing my mildly impressive Google skills, I found one theory that may be particularly interesting to anyone who likes Japanese movies.

The Origins of Golden Week’s Name

In 1951, there were two movies called “Jiyuu no Gakkou” (Freedom School) based on the same book. Both of these movies came out during the beginning of May. Even though they were in direct competition, they both did very well at the box office. One of the producers noted that this was probably because of the many holidays in a row. Thus, from 1952 movie production studios began marketing movies during those holidays as coming out during “Golden Week.” The phrase caught on and gradually came into common use.

Many names don’t have one main theory behind the coinage, and “Golden Week” is no exception. But it seems appropriate that name of one of the longest holidays in the Japanese year might have come from the popular leisure activity of watching movies.

 

References:

“Nande Golden Week na no?” | Woman.excite RaifuPuraningu

Golden Week – Gogen yurai  jiten

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    • L. May 22, 2013

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