With only 11 days a year, my days of paid vacation can be counted “almost” on the fingers of one hand. The opportunities to take vacations are (too) rare and the local culture, which encourages employees to do without, adds a layer. A breath of fresh air for workers, short periods of national holidays fortunately punctuate the year. The best known is the Golden Week, “the golden week”, a series of 4 public holidays concentrated over 7 days. But with the coronavirus pandemic, the Japanese have ironically renamed Golden Week, “Gaman” Week, ie endurance week.

Sad, sad Golden Week for the year 2020. With the establishment of the state of emergency and calls for containment, the Japanese who were impatiently awaiting this favorable period to return to their family or to travel saw their plans fall. at the water.

Holidays ? Which holiday ?

I consider myself happy. My 11 days of paid vacation, I can take them without too much difficulty. I even have the right to a special anniversary day that I treasure. If some companies turn out to be more generous (= attractive) than others, in principle a Japanese worker acquires 10 days of paid leave from 6 months of seniority. This cheeky number climbs to a maximum of 20 days (20 !!!) after 6 years working for the same employer. If you change jobs, you go back to square one without keeping your days. A mechanism that explains why the Japanese, even unhappy at the office, do not readily change jobs.

And if that seems to do little, know that the Japanese do not dare to take them as a bonus, and not concomitantly, with an average of 8.8 days of rest per year for employees. In the land of team spirit above all, the pressure of the group outweighs the need to recharge its batteries.

Public holidays to hold out morally

The Japanese are holding up thanks to public holidays. These mini puffs of air can lighten the pace of work for Japanese people. If employees can still choose to work them (understand: being forced by their employer), it is less guilty to take rest at the same time as the others. Thus, with the exception of the month of June, the Japanese calendar has at least ONE public holiday per month and two ideal periods for a strike : the famous Golden Week in May and the Silver Week (endangered “silver week”), shorter and more random depending on the year, in autumn.

Golden Week groups together 4 public holidays: April 29, May 3, 4 and 5. If May 1 and 2 are not holidays, from one year to the next, the period is more or less conducive to taking only one or two days off to bridge the gap. The abdication of the Emperor of Japan in 2019 led to a miracle that spilled some ink: a 10-day Golden Week.

A Golden Week at home with thumbs up = GAMAN Week

The gaman is a concept that comes from Buddhism and is really essential to the harmony of Japanese society. Be able to demonstrate gaman, that is to say patience, endurance and self-sacrifice in the face of pain or difficulties, is what allows the Japanese to put the needs of the group before those of the individual. I had spoken about it here.

With the coronavirus pandemic, local authorities in many prefectures feared significant travel of travelers during Golden Week. Some have even publicly called for visitors to cancel their stays. Fortunately, many Japanese people have finally canceled their planned trips for Golden Week, saying they are staying at home during Gaman Week, an expression that has appeared on occasion. A well-found and striking formulation to encourage others to do the same which fortunately hit the mark …

With the husband, our week off from Golden Week came down to staying at home all the holy day, with exciting getaways on the balcony (for a coffee), to the supermarket (to eat, all that) and late at night walking around the neighborhood to stretch your legs… And you, what did you do during your Golden Week?

Japanese Romaji French
ゴ ー ル デ ン ウ ィ ー ク gooruden uiiku Golde Week
我 慢が ま んウ ェ ー ク gaman uiiku Gaman Week
祝 日し ゅ く じ つ shukujitsu Public holiday
休 日き ゅ う じ つ kyuujitsu Vacation day
有 給 休 暇ゆ う き ゅ う き ゅ う か yuukyuu kyuuka Paid leave

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