Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The silver lining of Silver Week

Golden Week is the time in late April and early May in Japan where events in history have conspired to bring four national holidays within a hair's breadth of each other. By taking a couple of days of vacation, it can sometimes be possible to enjoy up to nine straight days away from the office. True, international schools often don't observe all the holidays but many take the time off anyway and enjoy a little down time.

Silver Week, on the other hand, is a different animal. Manufactured through the combination of the "Happy Monday" law which locked a number of national holidays onto a Monday rather than a specific date so as to avoid Sundays, and a second law that provides for an additional "bridging" day when two holidays fall a single day apart. And every few years this happens in September when the equinox shifts to the Wednesday following Respect for the Aged Day on the third Monday of the month.

But the two do have one thing in common; half the country tries to go on vacation at the same time. Tokyo is empty but that's not surprising when you look at the highways and see all the cars parked, fuming away, in traffic jams that can stretch fifty kilometres towards hometowns all across the country. But an alternative is to stay at home for Silver Week and go away the weekend after. The roads and trains are empty as families stay put, spending time recovering from the previous weeks stresses and strains. It actually makes for quite a peaceful couple of days away. The old adage is proved true again, there's always a silver lining.

The JARTIC real time traffic feed. In Silver Week it uses a lot of red ink. 

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