The first Golden Week since Japan reopened to tourists and post-pandemic. If the first cherry blossom season with international tourists post-pandemic is anything to go by – Golden Week 2023 will see huge crowds at all the key events and tourist attractions! This is the first time in four years that there is a full complement of Golden Week events.
Golden Week 2023 Dates
Golden Week every year is split into two. One day is at the end of April and three days together from May 3rd to 5th. If one of the days falls on a Sunday another day will be given off in lieu. The 2023 Golden Week dates are:
- Showa Day (honoring Emperor Showa), Showa No Hi 昭和の日, on Saturday April 29th
- Constitution Memorial Day, Kenpo Kinenbi no Hi 憲法記念日, on Wednesday May 3rd
- Greenery Day, Midori no Hi みどりの日, on Thursday May 4th
- Children’s Day, Kodomo no Hi 子供の日, on Friday May 5th – don’t miss these FREE resources (crafts, cooking, songs etc) for Children’s Day.
Saitama Prefecture Golden Week Events in 2023
In order to get this list out in a timely manner, any event with an existing blog post is linked to that post where you can pick up all the pertinent information.
- Events starting during Golden Week
- Ongoing events
- Flower displays / festivals
- In bloom
- Golden Week specific events
- Children’s events
- Water play
- Places that are normally free in during Golden Week
1. Events starting during Golden Week in Saitama Prefecture
The Moominvalley Park umbrella sky starts the day before Golden Week on Friday April 28th:
The annual Water Fes at Sayama Ski Resort starts on Showa Day, April 29th:
2. Ongoing Events
Lanterns at Aobaen:
At Kadokawa Culture Museum:
Laketown Boat Park
Take a boat out on the lake at Laketown!
Tove Jansson Light up
The Tove Jansson Akebono Children’s Forest has night light up every weekend. But during the Golden Week period they have it on nightly:
Nagatoro Cherry Blossom Festival
One of the longest “sakura matsuri” in Saitama, Nagatoro Cherry Blossom festival started in March and ends after Golden Week:
Last chance for strawberry picking
The strawberry picking season is winding down now. Those strawberry picking farms that don’t close at the end of the April, often close for the season after Golden Week has ended.
- Saitama Prefecture strawberry picking greenhouses near train stations
- Western area strawberry picking farms
- Picking farms in the Chichibu and Northern area of Saitama.
3. Flower Displays / Festivals
*Please note that although many of these flower locations still have their festivals on over Golden Week, in some cases the actual flowers are either no longer in bloom or past their prime. Also, the weather and fluctuating temperatures may effect the bloom of the remaining flowers over the period of Golden Week. Please do check the official websites, linked within each post, for the most recent updates.*
- Shibazakura Festival – the festival is still on, but the flowers have already reached their peak.
- Godaison Azalea Festival – there maybe some azalea lingering the first half of Golden Week.
- Azalea Festival in Higashimatsuyama on the first day of Golden Week only.
- Peony festival at Yakyū Inari Shrine, the Baseball Shrine until May 7th. However, I was there on April 25th and the peony are pretty much finished except for some yellow ones. One of the wisteria was in full bloom.
- In addition, there is also a Peony festival at Botanen Park until May 7th
- Tokaen: The legendary Wisteria of Ushijima until May 5th. Please note, that it is not unusual for the garden to cut the season off on short notice. As happened last year when the wisteria finished much earlier than the end date of the festival. According to the website on April 24th, all the wisteria, except for one white one, are past their prime now.
- Konan Wisteria Festival on May 3rd. This wisteria is expected to bloom until at least the 5th of May.
- Kisai Wisteria Festival – Kazo City have already said they don’t expect the wisteria to still be in bloom during the festival period.
- Daitenbaku Wisteria Festival – again, the festival is on over Golden Week, but the wisteria may already be finished.
- Shobu Wisteria Festival on April 29th.
- Fukaya Flower and Open Garden Festa – April 29th and 30th.
- Shirley Poppies in Ranzan.
- Wisteria that is in bloom, at least for the first part of Golden Week.
- California Poppies in bloom in Konosu – they only started blooming around April 23rd so they should – fingers crossed – remain good throughout Golden Week!
- Strawberry Candle Flowers in bloom – definitely in the first half of Golden week, but may wither before Golden Week ends.
- At Shinrin Park:
- Nemophila for the first half of Golden week – past its prime in May
- Lupine Flowers and Bike rental at Shinrin Park in Saitama Prefecture 2022
- Icelandic Poppies at Shinrin Park should still be in bloom the first half of Golden Week, but may not be for the second half.
4. Golden Week specific events
Koinobori, or carp streamers / flying carp as they are often called in English, are flown for Children’s Day which falls on May 5th annually. Children’s Day marks the last day of Golden Week. Here are some places you can see koinobori:
- ⇗Kawaguchi Koinobori Festival
- Citizen’s Peace Festival and Jumbo Koinobori
- Koinobori in Kawagoe
- Washi no Sato Roadside Station and Washi Paper making
- Fukaya Green Kingdom
- Kitamotoshi Kodomo Park
- Nanbata Castle Park
- Midori no Mura
(There were no carp streamers and renge in Kuki City last year, 2022, according to the official website. There is currently no official information available – either way – for 2023. However, several locals have posted on social media to say that the renge festival will not be on in 2023. The renge is blooming though).
The annual ice-cream expo with more than 100 ice-cream choices!
The Grand Bonsai Festival
The Grand Bonsai Festival takes place annually during Golden Week:
International Friendship Fair
On May 3rd and 4th:
Kasukabe Big Kite Festival
Tango no Sekku Hanging Decorations
Other events on over Golden Week
- Oshi Castle light up (Gyoda) – May 6th
- Forest Kitchen Car-nival AND Metsa Night Cinema (Hanno) – May 3rd to 6th
- ⇗Kawagoe Farmer’s Market Meat Festival (Kawagoe) – April 29th
- ⇗Bronze Street Festival (Kasukabe) – April 29th
- ⇗Kitamoto Classic Car Festival (Kitamoto) – April 30th
- ⇗Minamihatogaya Spring Festival (Kawaguchi) – April 29th and 30th
- ⇗Saitama Agri Festa (Saitama City) – May 5th
You will find that most of the municipal facilities, and some private ones too, that are aimed at children, have some events during golden week. However, due to the pandemic, many are temporarily suspended. Some of them are still on though. For example, Saitama Museum of Rivers, Kawaguchi Science Museum and the Saitama Prefecture Disaster Prevention Center have some Golden Week events for children planned. Other children’s events:
- Beetle Exhibition (Tokorozawa)
- Ultraman Exhibition (Kawaguchi)
- Trick Art Exhibiton (Sayama)
- ⇗Dinosaur Park (Yoshikawa)
- Hanamatsuri (Sakado)
- ⇗Children’s Day Festival (Kawaguchi)
Normally, the water play areas at places such as Saitama Children’s Zoo and Shinrin Park open on the first day of Golden Week, Showa no Hi. And then run until early September. The zoo did not open their water play area in 2022, but Shinrin Park did – but later in summer and with conditions. Quite a few water play areas did open in 2022 in the end, but not during Golden Week. There is some information available now for this year’s Golden Week. Water play areas open or opening over Golden Week:
- Saitama Museum of River’s water play (Yorii)
- ⇗Piala City water play area (Misato City)
- Maruyama park (Ageo)
- Hiratsuka Park from April 29th to May 7th (Ageo) It will open again from July 21st 2023.
- Kamihira Park (Ageo) opening from April 29th. However, it will be closed May 5th and 6th.
- ⇗Aobadai Park (Asaka) from April 29th to September 30th, 10 am to 4.30 pm
5. Locations that have a “free in” day during Golden week
Unfortunately, one of the lingering ‘side effects’ of the pandemic, is that free in days have become few and far between. Venues are still trying to avoid crowding. Between 2020 and 2022, 99.9% of free in days were cancelled. Unfortunately, it would seem the same for 2023. I have only been able to confirm
one, two, three free in locations in 2023:
- Pre the pandemic Ogawa Genki Plaza would have two days were the planetarium was free in and a children’s day festival on those two days. Unfortunately, the children’s day festival does not seem to be on again in 2023. However, they are letting people visit the planetarium for free on one day in 2023 – May 5th.
- Kawaguchi Green Center is free in for children under 12 years old on Children’s Day, May 5th.
- ⇗Kawaguchi Science Museum, planetarium and all, is free on Wednesday May 3rd.
Hereafter is the list for a ‘normal’ year, but not in 2023. This list is for future reference.
- Saitama Aquarium in Hanyu is normally free in for children on May 5th.
- Saitama Prefectural Museum of History and Folklore in Omiya ward, Saitama is free in for children. They normally have a Children’s Museum Festival on May 5th.
- Museum of the Sakitama Ancient Burial Mounds in Gyoda is free in for children. They also have a number of events over Golden Week including a “dress up as the ancients” event on April 29th and May 3rd.
- Ranzan Historical Museum in Ranzan is free in for kids.
- Saitama Museum of Natural History in Nagatoro is free in for kids.
- Saitama Museum of Rivers in Yorii is free in for children. They normally have several events during Golden Week for children.
- Momas: The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama in Urawa, Saitama City, is free in for kids.
- Chikozan Park Zoo is free in for children on May 5th.