Golden Week in Japan: holiday, fashion, and helping in tsunami hit areas
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Golden Week is to begin in Japan but this year it will be different for many people. The earthquake, tsunami, and radiation crisis continues because thousands of dead bodies have still not been found and radiation problems persist at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
It is worth pointing out that much of Japan remains unchanged and if you visit the trendy and vibrant Namba area in Osaka then it is hard to comprehend that you have a major crisis in northeastern Japan.
The same could be said about other major cities and everything is ticking in Hiroshima, Kobe, Nagoya, and other major cities. Tokyo is a little different because the aftershock was strong on March 11 and power shortages to scaremongering about the radiation crisis in Fukushima did hit many people. This in turn led to many embassies running for cover and leaving Tokyo but now nearly all have returned and Tokyo is returning to normal.
Northeastern Japan was devastated by the earthquake which then unleashed the tsunami and the radiation crisis continues. Therefore, things are very much different in northeastern Japan and the Kanto plains which felt the power of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake.
Therefore, regional variations will be very different and the city of Kobe will also be unique because the people of this city understand the tremendous loss of life from natural disasters.
Usually Golden Week is about holidays, meeting the family, visiting friends, and enjoying luxury time by doing what people enjoy the most. This year will be different for many people because tens of thousands will volunteer and help out in Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and in other coastal areas which were hit by the earthquake and tsunami.
Many volunteers will be reluctant to visit Fukushima because of the ongoing radiation cloud and many areas are out of bound because of the exclusion zone. However, Iwate and Miyagi will witness tens of thousands of people from northeast Japan, the Kanto plains, and from all over Japan; who will volunteer and spend their precious time by helping to rebuild areas which have been devastated.
Of course, for other people it will be time for a long holiday in either stunning parts of Japan or visiting Europe or other distant places. Also, for other individuals it will be a time to relax with family and friends or to venture alone by yourself and go shopping, hiking, putting your feet up at home or whatever the individual desires.
Individuals will reflect on recent events differently and for the government of Japan and the economy; then it is essential that shoppers and tourists spend their money otherwise the recovery is going to be too slow and more people will suffer in the long term.
Therefore, Golden Week will be a stark reminder to reflect on current events in Japan but for others it will be breathing space from the stress of life.
One thing for sure is that this Golden Week will be a mixed bag and this applies to regional differences and how people respond to current events.
For people who have lost family members, friends, and had their homes destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami; then clearly this Golden Week in 2011 will be about sadness, getting down to rebuilding, and trying to overcome the many difficult obstacles that so many individuals face.
However, for others it will be about drinking a beer and watching sport or buying exquisite clothes in trendy areas.
People are complex and you have no true mechanism on how to respond to tragic events but in the back of the mind will remain the ongoing crisis in northeastern Japan.