What Are The Most Popular Golden Week 2023 Destinations?

What Are The Most Popular Golden Week 2023 Destinations?

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Ashinoko - popular Golden Week destination
Picture: Yoshitaka / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
This year's Golden Week in Japan promises to be busy. Here are the hot domestic and international spots for Japanese vacationers.

Golden Week, possibly Japan’s most popular week for travel, is less than a month away. The week of holidays includes Showa Day, Constitution Day, Greenery Day, and Children’s Day. This year, it runs from Saturday, April 29 to Friday, May 5.

2023 marks the first year that many domestic and international travel restrictions implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic have been lifted. As a result, more people than ever will be traveling this year. Estimates indicate that the number of travelers may even reach pre-COVID levels for the first time since the pandemic began.

Kinki Nippon Tourist Co, a Shinjuku-based travel agency, reported on the statistics and trends of travel plans their customers had made for Golden Week 2023. They noted a sharp increase in international travel, particularly cruises, due to loosening restricts and decreased concerns regarding COVID. Bookings were up 250% from 2022. Many customers reported that this year’s Golden Week will be their first long-distance trip since 2019.

Natural sites, roller coaster heights, onsen nights

Tokyo Disneyland, Chiba
Tokyo Disneyland is the top domestic tourist spot for Golden Week. (Picture: parrysuwanitch / DepositPhotos)

The most popular destination for tourists staying within Japan during Golden Week is Chiba Prefecture, followed closely by Hokkaido, Okinawa, and the city of Osaka. Both Tokyo and Kyoto made the top ten, as did the prefectures of Mie, Hyogo, Ishikawa, and Kanagawa. Chiba, Hokkaido, Osaka, Tokyo, and Kanagawa all saw an increase in ranking when compared to last year’s statistics.

Chiba ranked as the number one destination due to many wishing to visit Tokyo Disneyland and/or Tokyo Disney Sea as well as the park’s associated resorts. Many theme parks were closed or severely restricted access during the pandemic. This meant that many families and children had been unable to visit them for nearly five years.

This was also the reason Osaka is such a popular destination in 2023: the city is home to Universal Studios Japan. Osaka was the destination that saw the greatest increase in ranking. Kinki Nippon reported that it ranked only 14th in 2022.

Other than theme parks, many tourists expressed an interest in visiting onsen and areas of natural beauty. Many onsen, like theme parks, experienced lengthy closures during the pandemic. This was due to concerns regarding the potential transmission of COVID-19 via shared baths and pools.


Tourists traveling to parks, mountains, and forests expressed a desire to spend time in nature after so long spent cooped up at home. Hokkaido and Okinawa were also popular due to people feeling more comfortable with air travel or long bullet train journeys.

In comparison, most people who traveled for Golden Week in 2021 and 2022 rented cars. They either stayed within their home prefecture or visited a neighboring one.

Fly, fly away – but not too far

Hawaii - popular Golden Week 2023 destination

With restrictions on international flights loosened for the first time in years, many tourists are taking the opportunity to travel abroad during Golden Week 2023. However, as many people have not flown for several years, there was a trend towards choosing destinations reachable by short flights from Japan. These include Guam, Taiwan, and South Korea. Despite this, none of these destinations were able to overtake Honolulu, Hawaii from its usual number one spot.

“Club tours,” or group tours led by a guide, also increased in popularity in 2023. This may be because people feel less comfortable planning and scheduling their own trips after so long without travel.

This year’s “club tours” are designed to appeal to hobby travelers. They featured destinations such as the United Arab Emirates, India, Italy, and Central Europe.

The United States saw almost no representation among Golden Week travelers. No “club tours” featuring the US made the top ten, and Los Angeles (at number five) was the only US location appearing in the top eight international destinations list for non-“club tour” travelers. [1]

Come Sail Away Again

2023 saw a massive uptick in the number of both families and solo travelers booking cruises. Many cruise lines did not operate any cruises in 2020, 2021, and even 2022, due to the difficulty of preventing the spread of COVID-19 aboard cruise ships.

In particular, two popular Britain-based cruise ships, the now-infamous Diamond Princess and the Queen Elizabeth II, cancelled all cruises originating in or stopping in Japan during the pandemic. (A Diamond Princess ship was quarantined in Japan near the start of the pandemic.) 2023 is the first year since 2019 that these ships will host cruises departing from locations in Japan.

Kinki Nippon Tourist Co predicts that these numbers will continue to increase as Golden Week 2023 approaches, matching or even exceeding pre-COVID numbers. The company reports that most of their scheduled “club tours” have already been fully booked. They also warn that, due to the surge in the number of people traveling, it may be difficult to book hotel rooms or attraction tickets at some top destinations.

The company concluded their report by reminding people that international travel to and from Japan still requires people to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination in most cases. [2]

Japan’s Morioka Hailed as New Top Tourist Attraction


[1] PR Times. 旅行先・移動手段がコロナ禍前に回帰傾向「2023年ゴールデンウィークの国内・海外旅行動向」https://prtimes.jp/main/html/rd/p/000001092.000001864.html

[2] Kinki Nippon Tourist Co. Golden Week Travel Hub Page. https://www.knt.co.jp/contents/gw/

Kay Benton

Kay is a longtime Japan enthusiast and former participant in the JET Program. Their favorite thing to do when traveling in Japan is visiting as many onsens as possible.

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