Golden Week Travel Advice

Our Tips

golden week

One major concern of many travelers using Japanese trains and the Japan Rail Pass is the availability of seating and tickets. Since rail pass holders cannot make seat reservations without presenting an activated rail pass in person at a ticket office, visitors to Japan worry that trains will be booked up.

Japanese bullet trains and express trains have many cars (up to 15!) with many seats on them, so most of the time, you will never have a problem getting a seat on a shinkansen.

However, if you are traveling in the spring, it is important to be aware of Golden Week, a string of Japanese bank holidays in late April and early May.

Learn more about making a reservation here

when is golden week?

Golden Week is a one-week period that has four national holidays. Often including one or two weekends in between, this is one of the most popular times of years for Japanese people to travel.

The national holidays are :
April 29th
May 3rd
May 4th
May 5th

2019 is a very special year : May 1rst is also a national holiday as it will mark the access at the Crown for the new Emperor. Please note that April 30th and May 2nd will also be national holidays.

how will this affect my travel?

While normally on-the-spot seat reservations for trains are fine (for example, going to a train station at 10:30 am to book a seat on an 11:15 train), during Golden Week this may be more difficult to do. If you are traveling in a large group, you may also find it difficult to get seat reservations so that all members can seat together.

what should i do?

Be aware of Japanese bank holidays so that you are not taken by surprise when arriving in Japan!

Upon arrival in Japan, you can activate your Japan Rail Pass and designate any start date within 30 days. This means that even if you do not plan to use your pass right away, you can have your rail pass ready to start. With this activated rail pass, even if it has not started yet, you can take it to a ticket office to make seat reservations. This is the best way to plan in advance.

If this is not possible for you, please keep in mind that most shinkansen and Limited Express train has non-reserved seating as well. For example Hikari trains have got 5 non reserved seats cars.

This means that even if you cannot make a reservation for the exact train you want, you can get on a train. You may not be able to sit together with your fellow travellers, and you may even need to stand for part of the way.

Golden Week is crowded, but please do not worry ! You will not be stuck in one city, and you will be able to get where you want to go.

Your Pass at the best price

National JR Pass From $ 278
JR Kansai Pass From $ 22
JR Kyushu Pass From $ 140
JR Shikoku Pass From $ 83
JR West Pass From $ 184
JR Hokkaido Pass From $ 160
JR Central Pass From $ 131
JR East Pass From $ 247

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