Next week is Golden Week in Japan – a week stuffed to the hilt with national holidays. Government offices and private companies alike close their doors and, of course, this will postpone some immigration applications for a few days. Please also note that 1 May is Labour Day and a public holiday in many countries in Asia and Europe.

Japan’s Golden Week is a time when even the most hardworking salaryman can kick his shoes off and spend a few days relaxing at home, while his children likewise have a little respite from their schoolwork. The holidays started yesterday, 29 April, with Showa Day (昭和の日), the birthday of the Emperor Showa, who died in 1989. Monday next week is Constitution Day (憲法記念日), which honours the day in 1947 when the new post-World War Two constitution was put into effect. Tuesday, 4 May is the prettily named Greenery Day (緑の日) which is dedicated to plants and nature, and Wednesday, 5 May rounds things off with Children’s Day(子供の日). This is the day when families fly those famous fish-shaped kites (鯉幟 – flying carp), pray for the happiness and health of their children, and, naturally, say thank you to their mothers.