Sep
21
2009

Silver Week in Japan

Many of you may have heard of Golden Week, a string of Japanese holidays in early May that is a major time for Japanese people to go on vacation.

But I doubt as many have heard of Silver Week! But there’s a good reason you may not have heard of it though: this year is the first Silver Week ever.

Silver skies on silver week, view from my apartment.

Silver skies on Citizen's Rest Day, the view from my apartment.

The holidays

Saturday, August 19 : A day off for some.

Sunday, August 20 : A day off for more.

Monday, August 21 : Respect for the Aged Day (敬老の日). This holiday comes every year on the 3rd Monday of August. However, prior to 2003 it was always on August 15th.

Tuesday, August 22 : Citizen’s Day of Rest (国民の休日). Not technically a “holiday”, but according to the Japanese specifications for holidays, a “Citizen’s Day of Rest” is to occur to fill a gap between two holidays that are separated by only one regular working day. But you don’t need to strain yourself over the details… the next such case isn’t for 6 more years. However, you should know that this Citizen’s Rest Day was originally created in 1986 to ensure that the Japanese would have an unbroken holidays for Golden Week, regardless of what days the holidays happened to fall on. In 2007 however, the government designated May 4th as Greenery Day, making the Citizen’s Day of Rest no longer necessary for this purpose.

Wednesday, August 23 : Autumnal Equinox (秋分の日). Either August 22 or 23 every year.

The name

Decided based on the results of a televised poll in November of 2008, Silver Week (シルバーウィーク) is more than just a call-back to Golden Week. In Japanese, silver refers to the elderly, making silver week an appropriate label for a string of holidays in which the most important one is Respect for the Aged Day.

silver = aged, silver hair

Just as a quick language digression… It’s commonly thought that the word silver came to be associated with the elderly as a reference to how hair becomes gray when one becomes older, but the actual origin of the usage apparently came from silver seats (シルバーシート), which was the old name for priority seating for elderly and disabled individuals on trains (Source: Wikipedia Disambiguation for シルバー, Japanese). The term silver seat fell out of use in the early 1990s when the trains began using the term 優先席 (ゆうせんせき) (literally: priority seat) in an effort to make the seats more open to pregnant women and injured people (by that time silver had already come to be associated with being old).

How to celebrate

Well, doing something nice for your grandmother and grandfather might be a good idea. Here’s one more good (?) idea.

Recently Released, Pokemon "Soul Silver" for Nintendo DS

Recently Released, Pokemon "Soul Silver" for Nintendo DS

Don’t get used to it

Because Silver Week requires the 3rd Monday of August and the Autumnal Equinox to land just exactly right, the next one won’t be until 2015.

As an idea of how to spur the economy, the LDP was considering designating an early November long-holiday similar to Golden Week that might have included Health and Sports Day, Culture Day and Labor Thanksgiving Day, but since the LDP recently lost power to the Democratic Party, this plan’s future has become highly uncertain, and because Silver Week is already pretty well linked to Respect for the Aged Day, it’s unlikely that this new string of holidays would be referred to by the same name anyway.

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Posted under Shocking News by Nihonshock.

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