Golden Week

Memoir (19) by Professor Joe Watkins, University of Arizona, USA

Although this Memoir is a bit late, Golden Week is a Japanese tradition where many people travel and visit other places in Japan. Most employers close their facilities and give their employees time off to celebrate a series of 4 closely spaced holidays between April 29 and May 3 – Shōwa Day (April 29 – commemorating the birth of Emperor Hirohito), Constitution Day (May 3 – commemorating the signing of Japan’s Constitution after World War II), Greenery Day (May 4 – made to commemorate the Emperor Hirohito’s love of nature), and Children’s Day/Boy’s Day (May 5 – when Japanese parents pray for the health and success of their sons by decorating their houses with carp-shaped streamers and displaying samurai dolls).

As a University employee, I was given time off work for May 3-5, and this, coupled with the weekend, gave me 5 consecutive days off work! I had thought about travelling to Shirataki Geopark and playing with obsidian and making crafts in its “hands-on” room, but ultimately, I decided to stay at home and focus on crafts that I had put off while writing.

I mainly stayed in my apartment but wandered out for groceries and to find convenient places to make arrowheads (flintknapping), clean branches (for spears and foreshafts), and work on bone (for bone needles and hair pins). By the end of Golden Week, I had accumulated 12 projectile points, 6 bone needles/awls, a pair of hair pins, I had beaded a feather I had found at the Otoe Stone Circle near Fukagawa, and I had finished (more or less) a needle case modeled after Ainu and Saami needle cases. My hands hurt, but my mind was clearer than it had been in quite a while.

In spite of the fact that I spent so much time working on things, it was good to see the many visitors taking advantage of their holidays to wander around Sapporo, take in the blooming trees of Hokkaido University campus, and to see everyone smiling and taking it easy!