Golden Week is over

Koinobori-carp flying in Yayoi
Koinobori-carp flying in Yayoi

Four national holidays occur over the span of one week.

April 29 Showa Day: the birthday of the Showa era emperor (Hirohito)

May 3 Constitution Memorial Day: The Japanese Constitution, adopted on May 3, 1947, is often called the Peace Constitution and was largely drafted by MacArthur’s staff. Of note, Article 9 renounces war “as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

May 4 Green(ery) Day: this used to be celebrated on April 29th, the birthday of the Showa emperor,  and is so designated because he loved plants and nature. It was changed to May 4 in 1996 (in effect from 1997) to create a block of 3 consecutive national holidays.


May 5 Children’s Day: Even though this day has been designated as Children’s Day since 1948 and local communities organize events to honor all children, it is mostly celebrated as Boys’ Day in families with sons with displays of kabuto (samurai helmet) and koinobori(carp flags). Girl’s Day is celebrated on March 3rd.

April 29th is not part  of  Golden Week, but  the day off last week set a relaxed pace at the office until the weekend leading into the 5-day break. Because May 3rd fell on a Sunday this year, the next working day(Wednesday) became a day off to give us the benefit of the holiday. I appreciate the time off, but because of my job status I am not paid for holidays.

All this left me with five consecutive days off for which I had no plans… I had dreams of traveling to South Korea or southern Kyushu, but I heard so many horror stories of crowds and traffic jams, I decided to hang around town and take a trip later.  I watched the crowds and traffic jams on the news and it seems that anyone who had international travel plans was under intense scrutiny because of  Swine Flu.  All teachers and school employees in this district who had plans to travel outside Japan during Golden Week were required to report their itineraries to the Board of Education.

Hiyogi-gai, sazae and iwashi on the grill
Hiyogi-gai, sazae and iwashi on the grill

This is how I spent my Golden Week: I spent a fair amount of time reviewing kanji that were in my “already learned” pile. I had forgotten about 10% of them. I am now up to number 905, and am finding I can write with less effort now and recognize more words in the newspaper and can often figure out headlines. I started reading essays in an annotated reader, Read Real Japanese Essays: Contemporary Writings by Popular Writers and am gaining confidence in my reading ability. I know it will take a while longer before I can read an unannotated text easily, but I know have made a lot of progress this year. My next goal is to start writing more in Japanese..writing in English is so hard for me that the extra barrier of  language makes it a formidable goal. Maybe start with memos?

Swing Caravan
Swing Caravan

On Sunday we went to a bar-b-cue organized by an old friend;  in addition to incredible “until-a-few-minutes-ago alive” seafood, we had several hours of live music by lots of local musicians. The weather was great and we were outdoors all day.

So I’ve been here almost a full year now. It has been 20 years since my last spring in Japan and I have especially enjoyed the past month or so because of the great weather and succession of  flowers, plum blossoms, magnolia, nanohana, cherry blossoms, wisteria, azaleas and it continues…right now the fragrance of citrus blossoms in our neighborhood is intoxicating.


I put in few hours weed whacking our largest field and am hoping to get in some flowers and pumpkin starts this weekend.  I am getting used to this slower pace of life.

Flower of amanatsu mikan
Flower of amanatsu mikan

Jiro is back in his studio full-time working on his next series.

Back at work today(Thursday) after Golden Week, the morning greeting went something like, “Welcome back after the long vacation. We have two days until we have two more days off.”

9 thoughts on “Golden Week is over

  1. Nono May 8, 2009 / 2:09 am

    Wow I can’t believe it has been a year. Time flies- or maybe that is because I am not living it. I do so love your blog. And you take wonderful photos Kate

  2. Fiona May 8, 2009 / 11:41 am

    Hi Kate,
    Luv ur pics
    I can’t believe it is almost 1 year since I left Saiki
    ** How time flies!!!!!!

  3. Judy May 10, 2009 / 1:11 am

    Hey Kate,
    I can almost smell the clams roasting on the barbeque,your pictures are great, again.
    Missed you this week in Salem but had a good time with the family. We stayed at Kai’s place Wednesday, reminds me of your old place.

  4. Bonnie May 11, 2009 / 1:19 am

    Hi Kate,
    I hope others from OSU keep in touch better than I have. I would love to have a post address because letters are my preference…though I am attempting to remake myself as a mac-person so who knows. Your blog is always a welcome place to visit. Thanks! take care.

  5. Sue May 11, 2009 / 6:25 pm

    I think any announcement that includes the number of days (and the fewer the better) until your next days off is more of a blessing than a greeting. A two day work week would work for me any time.

    I love the pictures of the flowers and your description makes me want to be in Japan in the spring.

  6. Susan May 13, 2009 / 3:32 am

    Nearly a year…we miss you SO much but remain grateful to keep up with your life, thoughts, and seafood consumption through your blog…

  7. Angelica Milling October 24, 2009 / 6:51 am

    Hey Aunt Kate,
    just wanted to say thankyou so so so much for having me at your house, oh and thank Uncle Jiro for me please. Say hi to Mio and Madu for me.

    • katezawa October 24, 2009 / 7:07 am

      Thanks Angelica, we really loved having you here too. I will say hi to the girls. Please give my best to your mum and your dad. Love, Aunt Kate

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