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Silver Week: Japanese Public Holidays in September


Translated by Lester Somera

Written by Sawada Tomomi


Silver Week is a week in September containing consecutive public holidays. If you travel in Japan during this time, some stores may be closed and public transportation may be crowded, so take a look at these travel tips for ideal destinations.

When is Silver Week in Japan?

Silver Week: Japanese Public Holidays in September

Silver Week is a string of consecutive holidays that often fall in September, depending on the year’s alignment of national holidays. During Silver Week, public transportation is often very crowded, which can have an effect on your trip.

This article introduces the schedule of Silver Week for 2021, how to avoid the rush, and some places to enjoy autumn travels. This set of consecutive holidays is like a shorter version of Golden Week, which occurs in early May.

Public Holidays in September

In 2021, Silver week starts officially on Saturday, September 18, and continues through Wednesday, September 22.

Silver Week doesn’t happen every year. There are two national holidays in September that must line up correctly to result in Silver Week. Those two national holidays are Respect For The Aged Day, which happens on the third Monday of the month, and Autumnal Equinox Day (*1), which in 2021 occurs on September 23.

Since normal weekdays sandwiched between national holidays become public holidays as well, a weekday that falls between Respect For The Aged Day and Autumnal Equinox Day becomes a holiday. For example, if Respect For The Aged Day is on a Monday, and Autumnal Equinox Day is on a Wednesday, the Tuesday in-between become a holiday. This can result in a five-day holiday Silver Week, including Saturday and Sunday!

*1: The date of Autumnal Equinox Day, when the daytime and nighttime are equal in length, is decided by the National Astronomical Observatory. It is a day to celebrate the fall harvest, and also serves as a day to venerate ancestors.

Important Points About Silver Week

Silver Week: Japanese Public Holidays in September

Silver Week is thought of as a time for those who live in Japan to go back to their hometowns or go traveling. Roads, trains, airports, and sightseeing areas will be unusually busy, so you’ll need to plan carefully when making your itinerary. In 2021, travel will likely be much lighter as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections. Please keep in mind that the Tokyo metropolitan area is in a state of emergency until September 30. If you do plan on taking a trip, be sure to exercise social distancing and follow local guidelines.

No matter what form of transportation you use during Silver Week, you’re bound to encounter crowds. If you get trapped in a traffic jam while taking a car or bus, you run the risk of losing a day of travel time. It’s more likely that you will be able to stick to your schedule by taking trains, but you may have difficulty finding a seat.

If you want to save time and avoid the Silver Week crush, pay for a reserved seat or go by plane. Having said that, it’s a popular time for travel, which means that prices will be inflated, so make reservations early.

Silver Week: Japanese Public Holidays in September

Since many people will be leaving Tokyo for their hometowns, metropolitan routes headed for the countryside will be crowded for the first half of Silver Week, and countryside routes bound for cities will be crowded for the latter half. Be aware of this pattern and you might be able to avoid some traffic while traveling.

In addition, there is data which states that traffic on the final day of Silver Week and similar holidays is comparatively less congested. Perhaps there are a lot of people who want to relax on their last vacation day, or have to get ready for the following day of work.

The Best Destinations During Silver Week

1. The Earliest Autumn Foliage in Japan: Mt. Daisetsu, Hokkaido

【日本小百科】日本秋季大型连休假期 “白银周”是什么?

Picture courtesy of 財團法人層雲峽觀光協會
The end of September, during Silver Week, is a little early to see autumn foliage. However, you can enjoy the wonderful fall colors in the north, where temperatures drop quickly on higher ground.

Mt. Daisetsu is said to have the earliest autumn foliage in the country, and it can be seen from mid-September until early October. Take the ropeway halfway up, and a seven-minute lift ride will get you to the top. If you’re confident in your stamina and physical fitness, you can also walk to the summit to enjoy the amazing view.

Daisetsuzan National Park

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2. Enjoy the Season with Hot Springs: Shin-Hotaka, Gifu

Silver Week: Japanese Public Holidays in September

The Shin-Hotaka Ropeway is famed as a place where visitors can look down at the autumn foliage that shrouds the overlapping mountains. We recommend taking a dip in the open-air bath at the waystation on the ropeway, so you can relax and gaze out at the mountains.

A round trip fare for the ropeway (2,900 yen), a ticket for food and drink (2,900 yen) and a pass to the open air bath (600 yen) can all be had in the “Refreshing Pack” for just 3900 yen, which is quite a bargain.

Shin-Hotaka Visitor Center

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3. Attend one of Tokyo’s Three Great Festivals: Nezu Shrine Reitaisai

Silver Week: Japanese Public Holidays in September

The Nezu Jinja Reitaisai (*2) is a historic festival at Nezu Shrine that sees normally 30,000 attendees a year. At the festival, you can see traditional "mai" dances, as well as mikoshi (portable decorated shrines which are carried around). Street stalls line the festival’s spacious grounds, and you can really enjoy the bustling atmosphere around you.

*2 The Nezu Shrine Reitaisai has been canceled in 2021.

Silver Week season has wonderful weather and food, and it’s the perfect time for traveling. Take the unique travel situations of consecutive holiday periods into account when you plan your trip in order to make the best of your time in Japan.

Main image from Pixta

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.