How does a holiday rise above the ranks of regular holidays to become the best? By existing just to give people a day off from work. Between Day is a holiday that doesn’t celebrate a historical event, a religious moment, or patriotic principles. It is, plain and simple, just May 4. And a Japanese national holiday.
If you work in certain industries, the week between Christmas and New Year’s in the United States is a dead zone. Workers save up all year to take vacation time during this week — though some employers help out by tossing in a few extra paid holidays. In Japan, however, the government realized that nesting two holidays around a work day made no sense, so in 1999, Between Day was established, rounding out the week of holidays known as “Golden Week”.
We like to call this the “Holiday With No Name”, mostly because, unlike other Japanese holidays, there isn’t really anything to call this day. The formal name, kokumin no kyujitsu, roughly translated to “citizens’ day off”, not the most glamorous of holiday names (though it does get the point across). And it is a day off, albeit a day most people would have taken anyway.
Basically, in 1999, the Japanese government created a law wherein any day that falls between two holidays is, by default, a holiday. Unless that day falls on a Sunday. A Sunday between two holidays is just a regular Sunday, though if you’re vacationing, the distinction is likely one of whether or not you get paid.
Now with such a great idea, surely there must be a catch. Alas, there is. Starting in 2007, Greenery Day is moving from April 29 to May 4 (Showa Day will replace Greenery Day). No more Holiday With No Name, no more holiday just because it’s needed.
We’re going to miss it.