Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Not-So-Golden Week

Wednesday May 2, 8:51 p.m.

Japan is going through its first major holiday period right now. They're in the midst of Golden Week which usually starts from April 29 (Showa Day) and goes on to May 5 (Children's Day). In the middle of that are Constitution Day (the 3rd) and Green Day (the 4th...and nothing to do with the band). Corporate Japan has been pretty kind to its ants over the decades by letting them take the official non-holidays off to create this long week of time off to visit the hometown and relatives.

But the traffic is horrifying during this time. Airports, train stations and highways are all clogged at the beginning and the end of GW. A lot of folks, including me when I was living there, just chilled in the Kanto and enjoyed the relative emptiness. Subways and intercity JR trains had quite a few seats open during the weekdays.

However, this year, it seems that the Rainy Season has come a bit early. I've been seeing weather reports over the past few days on NHK showing some major downpours afflicting most of the country. Pretty unusual for this time of year which is usually very pleasant for those travelers.

Regrettably, though, there has been a tragedy which has been making the rounds during GW. It happened around the same time that that minivan toppled over into the Bronx Zoo in Manhattan killing everyone on board. A bus heading to Tokyo Disneyland sliced itself in half through a highway sound baffle some days ago injuring several and killing seven. The cause was the driver falling asleep at the wheel which has gotten the media investigating reports of bus companies trying to cut corners by not having that extra driver on board to relieve a tired driver. I'm hoping that there is some sort of accountability to this sort of vehicular manslaughter.