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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.
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 in 2022, 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.
The Harvest Moon and the silvery susuki pampas grass are some of the seasonal highlights in September
In 2022, Silver week involves two 3-day weekends. The first starts officially on Saturday, September 17, and continues through Monday, September 19. The second begins on Friday, September 23, and continues through Sunday, September 25.
There are three normal weekdays between the 3-day weekends in 2022, and for those who can take these days off too, it will be possible to have as many as 9 consecutive days off this year!
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 2022, 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 becomes 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.
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 2022, travel may be lighter as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections. 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.
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 stating 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.
Picture courtesy of Sounkyo Tourism Association
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 enjoyed 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.
The Shin-Hotaka Ropeway is famous 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.
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 shrine dances, as well as mikoshi (portable decorated shrines that are carried around). Street stalls line the festival’s spacious grounds, and you can really enjoy the bustling atmosphere around you.
Also known as silver grass, many visitors flock to Hakone to see the sight of vast fields of pampas grass, which can be enjoyed from late September to early November every year. The silver and gold fields of Sengokuhara are the perfect way to enjoy the atmosphere of fall.
Hakone is also home to many other fantastic sightseeing spots. These include beautiful Lake Ashi and its famous pirate ship cruise, the surreal art of the Hakone Open-Air Museum, and the ropeway to steaming volcanic Mount Owakudani.
If you’re very lucky and the weather is clear, you may also get the chance to enjoy Hakone’s iconic view of Mount Fuji!
Lake Yamanaka is one of the famed Fuji Five Lakes, where visitors can enjoy some of the most stunning views of Japan’s most iconic mountain.
Yamanakako Hanano Miyako Park, located on the west side of Lake Yamanaka, is famed for its stunning seasonal flowers, and every fall from late September onwards the park becomes a vast field of golden cosmos flowers! Referred to as “fall sakura” in Japanese, these flowers are a stunning sight which can only be enjoyed in this season.
To the east side of the lake lies the Lake Yamanaka Panoramic Deck, a point from which visitors can enjoy incredible views of the lake and Mount Fuji. In fall the fields in front of Mount Fuji become a vast sea of golden pampas grass.
The season around Silver Week offers 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