Like Golden Week, Silver Week in Japan is a string of consecutive holidays. Typically, the entire country takes the week off in celebration, many shops close temporarily, and transportation becomes full and crowded.

Going during Silver Week might be a good idea if you’re planning a trip to Japan. If you’re interested in Japanese culture and want to experience many of their holidays firsthand, this is the time for you. Silver Week is a big deal, and places will fill up quickly. Just make sure to book your tickets well ahead of time.

This article will outline everything you should know about Silver Week in Japan. Let’s dive in!

When is Silver Week?

Silver Week usually takes place in September. However, the exact date depends on the year’s alignment with two national holidays: Respect for the Aged Day and Autumnal Equinox Day. 

Respect for the Aged Day happens every third Monday of September, while Autumnal Equinox Day varies between the 21st through the 23rd. Because of this, the dates of Silver Week vary each year. However, you can plan for them to happen anytime in September/October. 

Since these two holidays fall during the week, people get extra days off work. For example, if Respect for the Aged Day occurs on Monday (which it will) and Autumnal Equinox Day occurs on a Thursday, the Tuesday and Wednesday sandwiched between the two holidays will also become holidays.

Because of these extra days off, people usually use this time to travel and, if you’re new in town, to sightsee. With this said, Silver Week in Japan is the perfect time to experience Japanese customs and culture firsthand.

What Holidays are Celebrated During Silver Week?

As mentioned, two Japanese national holidays are celebrated during Silver Week in Japan: Respect for the Aged Day and Autumnal Equinox Day. Let’s look at these holidays more in-depth:

Respect for the Aged Day

Respect for the Aged Day celebrates and honors elderly people.

This holiday began in 1966 and was celebrated on the 15th of September. However, the day changed to every third Monday of September due to the implementation of Japan’s Happy Monday System, in which holidays are moved to Mondays to give an extra day off to those who work five-day work weeks.

During this day, news outlets usually feature the elderly, sometimes even giving the spotlight to the oldest people in Japan. People typically celebrate this national holiday by paying respect to the elderly in their families and community. They can volunteer in neighborhoods to give out boxed lunches to older people. Children will also put on special performances for the elderly citizens. 

Autumnal Equinox Day

Autumnal Equinox Day is a national holiday usually occurring on the 22nd or 23rd of September. This day observes when the sun crosses the equator from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere.

People honor their ancestors by visiting their graves, shrines, and temples on this day. People usually spend time with their families through autumn harvests or other outdoor activities. They’ll eat snacks for the public holiday, such as Botamochi, a sweet rice ball filled with azuki paste.

Places To Visit During Silver Week

Besides celebrating and honoring these two public holidays, you can visit these unique places on the days between the two holidays. It’s always best to plan your trip so that you’ll be able to beat the crowds and get the best out of your cultural experience.

Hot Springs in Shin-Hotaka, Gifu

During the Japanese Silver Week in Japan, trying out the hot springs in the Shin-Hotaka Ropeway is a must. The Shin-Hotaka Ropeway allows you to view the fall foliage surrounding the mountains. You’re looking down the hill from this area, which is a fantastic feat.

Relaxing in the open-air hot springs allows you to relax and enjoy the view.

A trip up here is worthwhile. A roundtrip fare to visit the ropeway costs around 2,900 yen (about 22 US dollars): from here, you can buy a ticket to the hot springs for 600 yen and a ticket for food and drinks for another 2,900 yen. All of this can be purchased in a bundle, called the Refreshing Pack, for just 3,900 yen (about 30 US dollars).

Mt. Daisetsu, Hokkaido

Are you looking for outdoor activities during your time in Japan? If so, visiting Mt. Daisetsu in Hokkaido is a must-see during Silver Week in Japan. During this time, you can see the beginnings of autumn in this far north of Japan.

To visit this area, you can take the ropeway halfway up along with a lift ride that will take you up to the top in seven minutes. If you don’t want to take the lift, you can also walk to the top while enjoying the fall foliage. 

Nezu Shrine Reitaisai

Visiting the Nezu Shrine during Silver Week is essential, especially during the festival, which is called Nezu Jinja Reitaisai. Approximately 30,000 people attend this festival and the shrine to celebrate it. 

During the festival, you can observe mai dances, which are traditional Japanese dances. You can also view the mikoshi, which is decorated shrines that people carry around during the festival. Like in any festival, many stalls and vendors allow you to buy souvenirs and food during the festivities.

There are many places to visit during Silver Week in Japan. These are just the recommended places to try out to highlight the upcoming autumn season.

Final Thoughts

Now that you are more familiar with Japan’s national holidays and Silver Week, you can plan your travels accordingly.

If you’re planning to visit Japan during Silver Week, booking your flights and hotels now is best because they fill up fast, especially for these national holidays. It’s also best to keep the bustling streets and crowded transportation in mind to make the best of your cultural experience.